The playground is open. That’s just one of the slogans used by Google to illustrate how anyone can mold and modify Android to suit his or hers needs and desires, but unfortunately we’re still seeing numerous manufacturers closing the playground to custom ROM developers.

One particular OEM that’s taken the reverse road however is Sony, who’s not only locked bootloaders in the past, but has even targeted the open source community with lawsuits. That has come to an end in 2011, with the past year being a textbook lesson in how to support independent Android devs.

Sony’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, with XDA-Developers, the decade-old 4 million people mobile development community, awarding the Xperia makers with the “OEM of the year” prize. As you can imagine, this is a symbolic title, but it’s one that Sony has already acknowledged and thanked for on the company’s official blog.

Now let’s take a look at the recap of the events during the past 12 months that have led to XDA awarding Sony with the prize for the year’s best original equipment manufacturer (aka phone manufacturer):

In addition to all that, Sony has one of the most active development blogs around where user feedback is not only welcomed, but asked and preview “Alpha” and “Beta” builds of updates are posted.

Now you shouldn’t understand that Sony has been without fault in providing software support. Android 4.1 upgrades haven’t started hitting devices for example, though the communication channels are wide open.

Who here thinks that Sony deserves the title of OEM of the year? Would you have picked an other manufacturer? Which one and why?