Sony Ericsson to Launch Xperia Sept. 30

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Sony Ericsson's Xperia X1 handset, based on Windows Mobile but with a distinctive touchscreen design, will launch for the U.K., Germany and Sweden on Sept. 30.

The phone, announced earlier this year and intended as the first in a line of devices, can have a variety of home screens, called "panels." Each panel can include icons for a variety of applications, links and content. Users can choose among nine different panels displayed as icons on the phone's main page.

Like other handset makers, the joint venture of Sony and LM Ericsson is grappling with the runaway success of Apple's iPhone, which can display applications and functions of the user's choice on its home screen. The iPhone already has a large following of third-party developers and a central location for buying applications, in Apple's App Store.

Earlier this month, Sony Ericsson introduced an SDK (software development kit) to allow third-party developers to create a wide variety of panels for the phone. The SDK is based on Microsoft Visual Studio, but Sony Ericsson said it has also done its own work to make the SDK easy to work with. Developers will be able to distribute their panels through Handango.

In addition to a touchscreen, the device also has a slide-out Qwerty keypad and a four-way button and optical joystick for navigation. It is equipped with HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) for data speeds as high as 3.6M bps (bits per second).

Following the three initial countries, Sony Ericsson will roll out the Xperia in other markets across Europe, Asia and Latin America throughout the third quarter. Among others, those will include Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, India, Malaysia and Taiwan in Asia; Spain, France, Italy and Poland in Europe; Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the Middle East; Argentina and Chile in South America; and South Africa.

Sony Ericsson wasn't ready to announce availability for North America but said it will reveal that on Nov. 3. Dates for China and Russia also will come later, the company said.

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