Over the past year, we have seen several companies break into the smartphone market. Some nearly crashed and burned, others shined. Among those, one that hung around the middle of the pack was Sony Ericsson. Their XPERIA line of smartphones was first expected to be a hit. After taking what seemed like ages to finally hit the market, their fate wasn't as promising as first impressions lead us to believe. In light of their less-than-spectacular year, Sony Ericsson has vowed to partake in some self-evaluation and learn from their mistakes in 2010. Promising us a better year ahead, SE has also said they will focus less on software and more on their hardware. Does SE have what it takes to turn it around and make 2011 a great year?
As we saw in a report a while back, Sony had a whopping 0% of eligible phones upgraded to Froyo in 2010. Reason being, they were focusing too hard on serving up Android with their own little touch. The software proved to be buggy, laggy, and rather ugly. My understanding is that they will focus less on customizing Android – something the end user can ultimately do on their own – and work harder on getting updates out quicker. Sony Ericsson has already promised quicker updates to come to the XPERIA Arc. Let's just hope they stick to it, and that they focus on their other devices, too.
Enough about software, what about SE's hardware? Will it be able to stand up against the build quality of HTC- or Motorola-made phones? Both HTC and Motorola are notorious for building their flagship devices with excellent quality. The build quality of the X10 was decent, but the phone was pretty bulky in comparison with its counterparts. It's hard to say exactly without having an Arc or XPERIA Play in my hand, but they devices look like they are built primarily of plastic. That said, Samsung has been known for extremely “plasticy” devices and have proven to be fairly popular – aside from all of the angered, Froyo-less customers.
While SE's newest devices aren't sporting the latest and greatest in terms of processors, I believe they will fare well amongst the competition. Reason being, the extremely sleek design of the Arc and the slide-out game controller of the Play. Also, they have promised to provide quick updates, which no manufacturers have truly provided yet. Many of their devices are rumored to hit the market sporting Gingerbread. If that isn't a testament to their dedication to getting the updates to customers promptly, I don't know what is. No, a phone shipping with the latest operating system and being updated to the latest version aren't the same. But most manufacturers' devices are shipping with Froyo, not Gingerbread.
Sony Ericsson has a fair chance to make 2011 a better year. Their self-evaluation skills appear to be spot-on, and they clearly have a perspective of the market that other manufacturers have yet to gain. With Android's Law in effect, it's really anyone's game. Take ZTE and LG for instance. They have both blindsided the market. Mobile World Congress is just under two weeks away and Sony Ericsson supposedly has several devices to unveil. I say they have a shot at doing the same.