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Sony Ericsson and Microsoft are to cooperate in making smartphones, revealing the world’s first Sony Ericsson phone to use the Windows Mobile platform, iin what appears to be a joint move to take on Apple’s highly successful iPhone.

The first Sony Ericsson handset to use Windows Mobile is the Xperia X1 ­unveiled in a media event on the eve of the Mobile World Congress, which opened in Barcelona yesterday. It features a slideout typewriter-style qwerty keyboard and 3-inch-wide DVD-quality touchscreen.

The keypad slides out at an angle and features keys that are well spaced for typing. The phone will connect via HSDPA/HSUPA, GPS and Wi-Fi platforms.

About 123 million smartphones — phones with computer-like capabilities such as e-mail and Internet browsing — were sold in 2007, according to market research firm Gartner. Microsoft is aiming at a market share of 20 million smartphones with Windows Mobile in the year to June.

Market leader Nokia remains the only major maker that does not have a Windows Mobile model: it prefers the Symbian operating system ­ also used by Sony Ericsson for models other than the X1.

Xperia is a brand Sony Ericsson plans to use to denote its top end models, but the company says it won’t be tied to Windows Mobile ­– future Xperia models could support other platforms.

The Xperia will be available in Australia at an undisclosed date later this year.

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