Hey Sony: This is how you lose Android customers

Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

Sony Ericsson is busy showing off its latest Android device, the Xperia Arc, at CES this week -- but a new twist surrounding the company's last Android effort may soon steal some of the thunder.

Sony Xperia X10 Froyo

As we reported in our Android 2.2 upgrade list earlier today, Sony Ericsson has confirmed to multiple publications that its Xperia X10 line of phones won't be getting Froyo. The reason? According to an interview with a Sony exec published in TechRadar this morning, the company's integrated UI modifications have made the devices too difficult to upgrade.

(This, by the way, is precisely why I continue to argue that it's time for the baked-in Android UI to die. The gain is simply not worth the cost, and there is a better way.)

It's a pretty pitiful proclamation, no doubt, particularly when you consider that the Xperia X10 launched just last August -- three months after Froyo's debut. Even worse, though, is the ridiculous rationalization Sony is now making for its decision. The company sent out the following statement via an official Twitter account a short time ago:

We believe the features included in the Android 2.1 phone are on par with, and in many cases better than, a vanilla installation of 2.2

Um, right, Sony. Call me crazy, but I somehow suspect the people who bought your Xperia X10 devices -- many of whom have been champing at the bit for Froyo's performance and feature improvements for months now -- would disagree. 

According to TechRadar, Sony did indicate that the Xperia X10 devices will continue to receive small non-OS-specific updates in the future, including one later this year that'll enable multitouch. I have to imagine that'll serve as a relatively insignificant consolation prize to the hoards of Xperia owners who had their sights set on Froyo.

(I reached out to Sony Ericsson for additional comment this morning, by the way; as of the time of this publication, I have not heard back. If/when I do, I'll update this page.)

So what to make of this disappointing development from an increasingly prominent Android player? I'll just say this: Android is an open platform, and manufacturers are free to modify it and develop it in any way they wish. It's an integral part of what makes Android what it is -- sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.

Android Power Twitter

As users, we can't control what carriers and manufacturers do or don't do with the software. We can, however, control which devices we choose to buy -- and by voting with our wallets, we can send a powerful message to phone-makers about what kinds of experiences we want.

UPDATE: Who can you trust to provide timely Android upgrades, and who's likely to leave you out in the cold? Check out our in-depth analysis: Android upgrades: Which manufacturers can you trust? 

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, on Twitter, or at eSarcasm, his geek-humor getaway.

Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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