Dec 05 AT 9:38 AM Anthony Domanico 141 Comments

Sony: No more feature phones, Android is our future

sony_Sir-Howard-Stringer

A little over a month ago, Sony announced that it was purchasing Ericsson’s stake in the Sony Ericsson joint venture for €1.05 billion. After the announcement, it was not immediately clear which direction Sony would take in the mobile phone market. Sony Ericsson produced a wide array of mobile devices, from low-end feature phones to the high-end smartphones.

It appears Sony has been actively working on a business model for the now-wholly owned subsidiary in a post-Ericsson world. India-based Economic Times is reporting that the Sony Ericsson line of devices will be phased by mid-2012. In its place, Sony will be focusing its mobile division around Android, and will release Android smartphones under the Sony name.

Though Sony Ericsson devices have a decent 12% worldwide Android smartphone market share, it has yet to find a solid footing for its Xperia line of devices in the United States. With Sony Mobile’s decision to move away from the feature phone market and focus exclusively on Android smartphones, we may see that picture change a bit in coming years.

With Sony’s commitment to bringing the latest version of Android to all of it’s 2011 smartphones, as well as its support for the development community, the company is certainly becoming one of our favorite Android manufacturers. We hope that with their renewed focus on Android that Sony will start making devices that people actually want, and that we’ll see their market share grow in the U.S.

Source: Economic Times

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • dpleus

    It’s good to see manufacturers focusing their efforts in one direction, instead of spreading them across several areas. Sony knows how to make good electronics, and compelling designs. It will be interesting to see where they go from her.

    On a side note, I dearly miss my old 2003 Sony Erricson Smartphone with Bluetooth, IR, and that 2.0Mp camera with it’s own dedicated button. That was a nice sharp phone.

    • dl22

      I wouldn’t mind seeing a sony phone that had their 90′s build quality, I am pretty sure I put my mini disk player through everything but the wash and it kept ticking.

      • stenzor

        There’s a waterproof Fujitsu phone coming out and a few other I think. I really hope more phones and tablets are made waterproof in the future… then I would never get out of the shower

      • erikiksaz

        Quality wise it seems that they’re on par with the other larger manufacturers. The design team seems like they are very set on distinguishing their products’ image from all the other phones on the market. Three areas where I think they could improve:

        1) Incorporate the newest hardware. To me it seems as if SE was always lacking in the hardware department
        2) Become integrated with US carriers. The Walkman feature-phones used to be so popular, what happened?
        3) Offer something different (at least aesthetically). I think they’re already moving in the right direction.

        • Jordanzzz

          I agree with your comment…

    • Michael C.

      Heck, I had a SE 2007 feature phone that could sync its contact list with Google Contacts OTA. I loved their software so much, it ran rings around the (then) top competitor Nokia.

      I know they won’t be putting their own manufacturer overlays on their Android 4.0+ phones (which is probably a good thing), but I still look forward to that special brand of Sony uniqueness they bring with every product. :)

  • YMS123

    Good move on their part. Keep making those high quality Android phones, but try selling them in the US. And how about an Xperi Vita?

    • Bryan Stoner

      The idea of an Xperia Vita just blew my mind!! +@u@+

    • Sil Claeys

      Another one bites the dust!

      No but seriously, the most rational choice for them to make in my opinion.

    • YMS123

      Edit* They* should try selling them in the US

  • Daniel Brierton

    With the price of low-end smartphones these days, I don’t see why anyone would buy a featurephone. I guess there’s people who refuse to use touchscreens and apps and the likes. I think there’s a market out there for featurephone-like form-factor smartphones.

    • GeauxLSU

      Some people don’t want to pay for the data plan.

      • dl22

        It seems like some people are just against the concept of paying for a smartphone plan…even if they pay extra for texting..

        Get a feature phone and pay for texting @$20/month

        Get a smartphone and pay for data @$20/month and text for free on Google voice.

        • http://www.lifequill.com Canterrain

          Ignoring the fact that most data plans are closer to $30 a month, the two problems with that plan is some companies bundle price (you can choose from talk, talk and text, or talk text and web…) and it just presumes too much of the savvieness people. Not everyone even knows about google voice, or has the knowhow to navigate the difference between their cell number and voice number and calling from one not the other and etc. Yes it’s incredibly simple for us. But not everyone is us.

          And let’s be entirely honest. Not everyone NEEDS a smartphone. (in fact, most don’t need one) and if you are choosing between actual needs and toys, then it’s good if someone is still making flip and messaging phones for someone who only needs that.

          • Bryan Stoner

            Very true not everyone needs one. But I gotta have my gadgets!!

            And it’s always fun teaching someone new things too. A smartphone will be what the person makes of it. Some people will conquer the world with their smartphones. Others will conquer their daily life! The rest will recreate the Geico commercial XD

            I’d say if your willing to explore new things have a go at it. If not there will always be other companies that offer feature phones ^^

        • erikiksaz

          The problem is that the majority of those who own phone plans are not as dependent on the internet as us (the younger generation). It’s just something that they never had a chance to integrate into their lives.

          As we, again, the younger generation, shift through the later age cohorts, I’m sure this will change.

          Can you imagine yourself as a grandpa at 90 on twitter? =p

      • bizymare

        I have three daughters. $30 data plans x 5 gets expensive. And they do love the actual keyboard for super fast texting. We looked at feature phones and the selection is so limited now they were almost forced to a smart phone.

      • stenzor

        I didn’t have a data plan for the first couple of years I had a smart phone (just used wi-fi)… Now I have no idea how I’d be able to live without it.

  • BiGMERF

    Sounds good to me… Wise choice Sony.. Now lets sit back and wait to see if they actually follow though. Its one thing to say something , an its anther to do it.. Time will tell.

    • Trevor Cameron

      BiGMERF… How do I add a picture to my account? I don’t see an option under Edit Profile. Thanks!

      • stenzor

        Gravatar! Sign up and make sure you’re using the same e-mail as the one on androidandme :)

      • BigCiX

        gravatar.com

        • BiGMERF

          what they said Trevor. very simple

          • Trevor Cameron

            Got it! Finally an Avatar, thanks for your help guys!

      • kevin charliethesuperturtle

        Gravatar,
        btw isn’t my pic BEAST ;D

  • http://whysoangrybirds.com mikeyDroid

    Android or die.

  • thekaz

    android… Winning!

  • Danny Calderon

    Now they have to get the carrier to sell their phones

  • stenzor

    The more Android, the better. This is the only move Sony could make really because one of the biggest selling points and functionality aspects of a smartphone today is its apps. And the two biggest platforms for apps are iOS and Android. If there are no developers, there are no apps as Sony may have discovered.

  • http://www.desean.net desean

    I haven’t used any Sony android phone before but looking at how forthcoming and active Sony is in trying to engage the dev community, it might be worth considering them for my next phone. One thing for sure is I wouldn’t get an android phone that is not dev friendly. I can’t live without custom ROM :)

  • dl22

    Wake me when these words actually mean something. As an android enthusiast its hard to get excited about this kind of vague announcement, we hear it all the time.

    We’ll see fruit from this in about….a year.

    • kazahani

      I can understand your cynicism on this issue.

      That said, the Xperia Arc was a sweet piece of hardware, and I really want to see what Sony has been working on. You will be surprised what they have in store for 2012.

  • jenskristian

    Good news for Android (and us). The rumor (?) that they also will release stock ICS for their 2011 line is something that really can make more people consider Sony smartphones.

  • Darknight42020

    Seems to be a common occurance these days. This falls in line with the actions taken by RIM in opening a venue for other OS’s to use their tech to apply it to their own (more of a last ditch effort to save themselves but albeit still a wise choice). Android seems to be the best choice to make so I’m glad to see more manufacturers and tech developers decide to quit fighting the current and flow with it. Many benifits to having an united front.

  • rashad360

    I like this. Spny makes good hardware, I’m glad they are leaving the software up to Google.

  • azulpiscina

    maybe we see the next nexus coming from sony? I’d love it!!

  • Louis Atu

    Good news for android phone, more big name manufactures. Then apple and microsoft will use the courts to try to get free money from them.

  • http://None Javier Bastardo

    Never used a Sony phone before, but I’ve always been a fan of their products. Great news for the Android community.

  • Trevor Cameron

    I’m impressed that they’re putting their stock in Android and are not a afraid of Microsoft and other patent trolls lurking out there. I’m also excited to see some serious integration with Sony Blu-Ray’s, TV’s, PS3, etc.

    Off topic, how do I add a picture to my account? Thanks!

  • SCJaredJ

    Would love to see a pure google experience phone coming from Sony. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Xperia line, as they always seemed a bit gimmicky, or I got the feeling that updates would just never come. Hopefully this focus will lead to some phones that I might actually gravitate to.

  • hinds2009

    Love this move.I’m in canada and the arc and play are popular phones. Their phones have open go enabled also along with panoramic mode. Looking forward to the experia cloud ics phone!

    • hinds2009

      I meant open graphics library (gl)

  • the5thdimension

    My first camera phone was a Sony Ericsson. I can’t even remember what year that was. It’s nice to see a big name like Sony committing to Android in this way.

    Android has progressed so much since 2008. I’m so excited for ICS, the Galaxy Nexus (Which hopefully I’ll get before they announce Jelly Bean), and the future of Android.

  • tequilya

    Sony makes nice stuff but they have a history of trying to force their proprietary protocols in at every opportunity (Betamax is the classic example, does that reference date me or do they still teach that stuff somewhere?). Thank god memory stick is dead… hold that… I just googled it and though memory stick had taken a break from appearing on many recent devices from Sony, it isn’t actually dead.

    Dear God, please don’t let Sony’s contribution to Android be to fragment the landscape with memory stick phones!

    • tpulu

      My family had a Betamax when I was growing up. I loved it.. Better picture quality than VHS, and also, when we dubbed the VHS movies we would rent, the copies weren’t distorted by the copy protection. I loved those little tapes lol

  • Adryan maldonado

    I might actually consider getting one. I’ve always heard they have great camera hardware but we’ll see. They’re going to need to pick up their game though to get my business.

  • Vid Faith

    I think they are going in the right direction. Hopefully there phones will lose some cm around there waist and become a little bit thiner. Becouse I was happy with my Sony phone but it was a while a go.

  • ndub21

    I used to have a SE dumb phone that I really liked. That was before the smartphone era came about though. I hope Sony comes out with some great Android phones. The more competition between manufacturers, the better.

  • Crickerman

    great! now make me an xperia vita with tegra 4 for next year :-D

  • http://www.lifequill.com Canterrain

    And next month we’ll be reading…

    Latest Sony android phone to use only obscure memory cards, styluses, and headphones made only by Sony that cost six times as much but are “more secure.”

    • Billy

      And of course its going to have some obscure name. The Sony APM-967wM.

  • Futureboy

    In Sony’s history, they have made some ground-breaking devices as well as some slick devices. Somewhere along the line, they seem to have fallen behind while others took the lead and become the innovators.

    They have the potential to take this opportunity and become a real player in this market. Personally, I would love to see a high-end Sony device running vanilla ICS.

  • Matthew Ward

    I wonder, with Sony fully throwing their hat into the Android phone ring, what type of patents will they be bringing along. Is it strong enough to protect them from Future Apple Lawsuits?

  • Danthes24

    it was about time they throw away the Symbian, Android is the future..:D

  • tlengster

    WISE move SONY! Android is growing exponentially .

  • Kai99

    # things would make this a win for Sony and Sony fans like myself: Google-Sony Nexus handset & Android on my Sony car stereo and Android on my PS3!!! It can’t be that hard to implement Android on a PS3, if they reversed their stance on multiple OS’ on them.

    • Kai99

      *three

  • Bryan Stoner

    Great move Sony~ If they incorporate their amazing camera tech, portable gaming tech, and sleek design into their new smartphones they are as good as gold ;)

  • spintrex

    Sounds great , can’t wait to see how Sony will drive the smartphone market in the near future. Sony has always made high quality products so there would be no surprise that they would do the same in the smartphone business. Pricier? Perhaps but they do know how to get people riled up with their designs and performance of their products.

    • spintrex

      Can anyone say PS4 + PS Vita + Sony smartphone integration?

  • Alex

    I really hope that Sony revamps their custom UI; if they do, they could become a pretty substantial contender in my list of favourite smartphone manufacturers. (HTC is on top)

  • Wayne Winkler

    I like the direction their going but more attention needs to be put at the carriers. Let us choose are phone then choose our carrier.

    If we pay for unlimited data let us share it among devices even if there is a surcharge of 10 bucks or so for the extra device.

    Until this, I think for lower incomes and those who just aren’t drawn to smart phones for whatever reasons feature phones still have a place.

    I for one had thought if I could buy a Galaxy Tab on contract, and tie it to my unlimited data plan on Verizon which is grandfathered in. Then I could possibly go back to a feature phone but due to independent plans required I have never tinkered with the concept any further.

  • Jason Corry

    I have always been a Sony fan! This will be intresting when it comes time to upgrade my Evo 4G. Looking forward to what they come out with…

  • http://youtube.com/user/jawckamoe Marcus Nolasco

    I think this is a good move on Sony’s part. But then again, not very many people want to pay for a data plan…

  • Mykhaylo Tkachuk

    If Sony will develop really good platform for Android 3D graphics and create few PSP-like smartphones – they’ll blew out the market.

  • itzxdjx

    If Sony would allow all those playstation titles to be available to all android phones besides there own, that would be a great game catalog for android, imagine psp/vita titles. In my mind Sony is slowly fadding, for me some of the Sony Ericsson phone where to busy for my taste.

  • donger

    Sony makes great products, they just need a breakthrough. A device that is above the competition.

    • GUI_Center

      With them committing fully to android I think that will happen. Maybe not above the competition but at least good enough to compete with the elite phones.

  • spoon201

    Sony has been making something some daring moves recently; dropping Ericsson, going all in on Android. I like it hopefully they can bring even more to the Android table.

  • Shay D. Life

    Personally I think it’s a good move on their end. It has to be scary to bet everything on one options for a company. Another view is they might just see more value in android with all the activation’s per day, but people tend to fail when only see dollar signs instead of what people need in a device.

  • Lee Swanson

    Eeeeep! I thought that was some Republican presidential candidate in the picture.

  • breinhar

    Sony makes good and innovative products. I’m excited to see what that create.

  • thegross1

    Smart move imho

  • ffff00

    I’ve never been a fan of Sony Ericsson, save for a few devices. This is awesome. Sony’s complete shift of direction definitely has the potential to sell me a device. :p

  • Billy

    What’s a feature phone? Is that in iPhone. ;)

    I kid! Good move for Sony .. I think they have some pretty good devices but could make some great products if they put more weight behind Android.

  • spk4life

    Let’s just hope the don’t completely customize Android like they tend to do. Some of they’re products don’t even look like Android.

  • Shadowlore

    Kinda glad to see the nail being put into the coffin for ‘feature phones’. With most providers requiring subscribers that have these devices into the same pricepoint as a smartphone, there is little to no incentive for people to continue to buy these devices.

    While I see plenty of use for regular ‘low end’ devices, feature phones are something I never really understood the desire for.

  • wild

    Don’t like smartphones from s.e. but they defenetly choose a right way :)

  • rashed rab

    good news

  • Brandon Southwell

    Well that’s interesting. Can’t say I’m surprised though.

  • jameshkd

    This is definitely good news, need to have a world where apple doesn’t dominate everyone

  • humidity

    I’m saddened by this decision. Not everyone wants or can even afford to purchase a smartphone (with a data plan). Some people just like simplicity with the idea that a phone is just a phone. I know some of my family members only use feature phones. I hope this isn’t the beginning of the end of feature phones if other companies follow suit.

  • Clint Haynes

    It will definitely be interesting to see what Sony can come up with.

  • Six8Six

    Smartphones are they way to go if they want to make a splash when Sony enter the market again. And highend ones at that. Not to mention the US market!

  • Tal

    This is excellent news.
    Now call me crazy – but how about Sony creating a high end 6″ tablet/phone? Competing with Samsung Note …
    6″ is the dream size for me. About 9.5cm wide overall, is enough for a 6″ screen if you keep the bezel minimal, and it will be still pocketable.

  • oko loko

    Great. Android is very promising platform.
    However Google has to cope with defragmentation of Android OS.

  • Flight777

    I hope they will improve that plasticy look of the Xperia phones. The design is cool, but it just has a cheap plastic look and feel to it.

  • Deeds

    Feature phones those things dinosaurs used, right? They’re definitely a thing of the past.

  • http://luggagedesigners.com Mike Hanel

    wth is my grandma gonna use now? I finally got her to move on from messenger pigeons!

  • Andrew Castro

    Its not a true Sony product until you have to buy the expensive proprietary Sony memory cards! Just look at how much they are going to sell the memory cards for the new PS Vita:

    “$30 for 4GB, $45 for 8GB, $70 for 16GB, and $120 for 32GB”

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/245022/ps_vita_memory_card_prices_revealed_far_from_a_deal.html

    You can’t get anymore high end than buying a memory card that costs more that half of your subsidized phone. Lets hope the phone doesn’t get all the negatives of owning a Sony product.

  • Dan Jones

    Doesn’t surprise me at all. Dumbphones are going the way of the dinosaur, and it’s about time.

  • Daniel Grice

    sony used to remind me of apple: pay a lot for rubbish
    okay sony had quite a few milestones in the history of mobile phones (cybershot, best mobile at that time) but what i mean is they hardly ever sold products where you really got a lot for your money. htc is more like it

  • mugurelu

    I so miss my SE w800i.
    Phones like this and the Nokia N95, they wont do phones like this anymore!
    But I hope Sony will do better!
    U have my vote of trust! Go get em Sony!

  • Jeff B

    This is a really good decision made by Sony. High quality Android smartphones under the Sony brand could be a big seller. Also this means they were probably be a whole line of “playstation” phones available.

  • Leo Young

    In five years, I had five Sony-Ericcson phones. Sigh. The problem was the goofy proprietary connector. It was sprung inside the unit and it lead to nothing but trouble. The connector would corrode on the inside and it had to be disassembled to clean. The most I ever got out of a phone was one year. On one unit, the spring broke!
    Then there is the proprietary memory chip.
    I have had enough of the problems with SE phones. There is nothing they could do to repair the frustration, loss of use of the phone, lost connections and opportunities due to being out of touch.
    My next phone will be an android but it will be anyone except Sony.

  • Torrance Barber

    No more feature phones!?!? Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!

  • kwills88

    I honestly think Sony should just strike an exclusive gaming deal with android…like I’ve said on here before…why not just let their be android exclusive games via their market store or let us have a ps3 app where we can log into psn from our android phone…Microsoft has Xbox and having psn on android would kick them while they’re down…little big planet would be perfect on a smart phone..the possibilities, man.

  • Fabio Rojas

    Android + Sony gaming division = I cant wait

  • Nathan Diaz

    Well I do like their phone but their feature phone are good to.

  • seven2k

    If they come out with a better version on the xplay and have timely updates…I might let go of the Nexus line.

  • http://normanma.net/ darkhorse166

    I want to see Sony leverage their strong photography core and produce an Alpha-branded phone, just like they’ve done their Walkman phones. Something like a 8-12MP oversized sensor like the Nokia N8, a dedicated camera key and strong build (metal) would give them a real differentiator to most of the handsets out there.

  • Oscar Ortega

    Good for them more high end phones! ;)

  • YNWA

    Hopefully they go with stock ICS. We don’t need anymore skins.

  • wombas

    Sony needs to improve its core hardware though. My wife bought the arc and several weeks later the GS2 arrived which I was waiting for and bought. Although she likes the look and feel of the sony its laggy. Both we’re (are) they’re top phones but the sony has only 8gb onboard and a crappy single core. Sony have been making lcds forever really but sammies smoled plus absolutely blows the arc.

    Sony + E should have and could have done better. Perhaps sony alone will get it right. I hope so.

  • sylar

    Lets see them do it. I’m interested to see how it will all turn out. That and how long it will take them to get the newest version of android out to all of their phones.

  • zyphbear

    I just have to say I’m glad, we need less feature phones when even those people are complaining that they don’t have features.

  • sap26

    I’m always welcome to more manufacturers in the mix especially from a company that I once liked so much. I can’t wait to see what they have planned for 2012. We’ll see if their experience can give them an edge in this rapidly growing market.

  • thaghost

    I say let Sony in on the action and send LG to siberia. (no offense to anyone from siberia)

  • Brandon Dean

    I am very excited over Sony wholly owning the mobile division, and even more excited that they are going all android. I think having the whole operation in house will allow them to further integrate their phones into the services they already offer.

    Also, all android means they can really focus on making quality experiences, since they will only have to focus on one OS.

  • phaet2112

    Even the Sony overlay looks to be a bit nicer than samsung’s, LG’s or HTC’s. Hoping they can pull it off with some nice hardware to boot.

  • minimage

    The question for me would be whether or not they’d install rootkits on their phones, like they did on their CDs.

  • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean the Electrofreak

    They’re going to have to do a lot better than they’ve currently been doing with Android phones…

  • LukeT32

    I don’t see how there is any money in feature phones anyway. They pretty much have to give them away to even move the units….

  • cheeseasaurus

    I wouldn’t be surprised to quickly see many companies go this way. Production costs on things like capacitive screens continually decline, making it possible for large profits on cheap android phones. Pair that with open source software with no licensing fee and companies can turn profits quickly.

  • tpulu

    Good to see Sony going all in on Android. Hopefully they come strong, not only Spec-wise but Price point, and US availability. And with their bad reputation for proprietary things (read: Memory Stick)… I just hope they don’t include things like that… just let me use a MicroSD, Micro USB charger, etc. and we’ll be fine. And marketing! Market the hell out of it.. I’d like to see more ads on TV about Android, not just Droid all the time. I’ve grown quite tired of people asking me what “Droid” phone I have. Maybe Sony can enlist Kevin Butler from their PS3 ad campaign?

  • nevsdad

    I’m glad to see Sony has seen the light! Android 4 Life!

    • Samar

      Gotto say..pretty late though.

  • ArticulateFool

    Hello Sony, welcome to 2010. What took you so long to come to the party?

  • http://www.baldypal.com Adam Jones

    It actually never dawned on me that SONY and SONY ERICSSON were not already one in the same. None the less, Samsung’s screens are the best. Wasn’t it Samsung who owned the screens that were so suppose to go into the Droid Incredible and it’s because they quit mkaking them or selling them to HTC that’s the reason why the Droid Incredible went on back order for so long?

  • Ismael Rodriguez

    “Our fufure”…no…it’s THE future. Unless RIM can pull a rabbit out of their hat, Android and iOS are going to be the only options in the smartphone market anyway. (The upcoming wannabes aren’t entitled to a passing thought just yet.)

  • raminscc

    Should still have some feature phones but I like the direction!

  • DKLDroid

    I like the Sony/Ericsson brand phones. Hope Sony continues to make some cool phones. It would be great if they can get phone carriers to get rid of the paying extra money for unlimited texting and data.

  • http://ilysespieces.tumblr.com Ilyse Rose

    My friend had a Sony Ericsson phone that kicked ass right up until the day she dropped it in a glass of soda. And even then, it kept chugging along with some random reboots but that’s it. I like their hardware.

  • Marc’us H.

    As of the last 2 or so, I haven’t really known Sony-Ericsson to really make a lot of “feature” phones, they tried to push a lot of Xperia’s out there in the last year, and I wouldn’t necessarily call those “high end” considering there weren’t a lot of units in the US moved.

  • antfelici

    you mean the other ones weren’t high end

  • antfelici

    It’s hard getting to 15

  • theicebergx

    ^ tell me about it

  • Santana

    Did the Xperia even sell?

    • Samar

      The start was good, but then sony cudn’t push the updates quick enough and failed to introduce new handsets quick enough like HTC/Samsung or even moto.

  • honourbound68

    welcome to the party Sony.

  • Bryan Stoner

    That’s a pretty cool idea XD Just like the “Other OS” feature they used to have~

  • tpulu

    +1 I’d love to see more integration with the PS3 and upcoming Vita. Maybe they could release a “Google TV App” for the existing PS3