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Sony admits that Gingerbread is a disadvantage for them in the retail stores

June 20, 2012

I still don’t feel Sony is where it should be in the mobile world. Sony Ericsson used to be one of the very best, up there with Nokia, but I guess both of them fell behind badly once the touchscreen smartphone revolution appeared. They were also slow to recognize that a touchscreen smartphone is as much about the hardware (especially its processor) as it is about the software.

I do think they are catching up in many ways in both hardware, and also software, having recognized that upgrades are important for users. But even though they may not be the most important for the majority of their customers, it’s important for the loudest ones, and the ones that could give the phones a vote of confidence when recommending it to their friends.

At the launch of the Xperia U and Xperia P, Sony admitted that having the latest version of Android matters a great deal for the store representatives when it comes to recommending phones to people. Because they obviously want to recommend the best, why would they recommend a phone with Gingerbread, instead of one from a competitor with ICS that has similar hardware and price?

“The main disadvantage [of running Gingerbread software] is the perception from retail staff, said Sean Coulson, Marketing Manager, Sony Mobile. “When they are recommending phones they always recommend you the latest and greatest.”
“From a consumer perspective I don’t think it’s a huge disadvantage. It’s something that we are working really hard to address as quickly as possible,” he explained.
“We would never deliberately launch not on the latest version of Android but it comes down to a choice between delaying the launch or going to market with an older version. We’ve made a really public commitment to ensure it is upgradeable.”

The last point is a good one, because I think every single manufacturer should, at the very least, announce when their phones are going to be upgraded, and commit to doing it. If they can’t even say that, then why would you trust them with your purchase?

The problem is most likely one about allocating resources and developers to change to ICS. But that is their problem, if they want to be competitive in the market. As long as Sony doesn’t put the very best hardware on the market (and for that specific price range), coupled with the latest version of Android, they will not be considered a good Android manufacturer.