Sony buying out Ericsson and going it alone is one the biggest things to happen in the mobile industry over the past few months. It marks the end of a 10-year partnership - a partnership that once saw Sony Ericsson flying high as a top three mobile manufacturer.
But recently those glory days have seemed more like a distant memory than something that could conceivably happen again any time soon, and despite decent 2011 handsets like the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc (and of course its S variant), something had to give. Heck, just look at those Q4 results.
Personally, I’m quite happy about Sony going solo. I’m a fan of the PS3 and PSP, I’ll probably buy a PS Vita, I’ve had good experiences with Sony TVs, and the Sony Tablet S and Tablet P were – for my money – easily the most interesting tablets released in 2011. True, I have no intention of buying either of them, but full marks for effort.
If mobile history has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen. In terms of sunshine and rainbows, we’ve got Apple’s incredible rise from nothing to smartphone God, and HTC deservedly stealing some of the limelight after beavering away behind a veil of network branding.
Conversely – and there’s a lot more to choose from here – we’ve got Nokia and RIM currently in the doldrums, Motorola almost drowning in a sea of RAZRs a few years back, and HTC shooting itself in the foot with a rocket launcher in 2011 with 6,728,102 different handsets.
My point? Nothing is certain, man. It’s all to play for.
On the plus side for Sony, it’s a household name (though admittedly it might have to build up some trust in the mobile field), and – like Samsung – it has a whole range of products allowing for integrated goodness. And let's not forget those patents. There are definitely worse positions to be in.
As for the future, we got a taste of things to come at CES last month, starting with the Sony Xperia S. The specs are pretty tasty, including a 4.3in 1280x720 display, 12MP camera, 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 32GB internal storage. It’s expected to land in the UK next monthish.
Our Transatlantic cousins are also getting a 4.6in LTE variant called the Sony Xperia Ion. We’re hoping the rumoured Europe-bound equivalent – the LT28i – materialises at Mobile World Congress in a few weeks.
Two chaps who sound like certainties for Barcelona are the Sony Xperia U and Sony Xperia P. Nothing worth getting too excited about, however, as both have lower specs than the Sony Xperia S. Well, unless you fancy something a little less pricey, I guess.
The Sony Xperia U has a 3.5in display, 1GHz dual-core processor and 5MP camera.
The Sony Xperia P, meanwhile, has a 4in display, 1GHz dual-core processor and 8MP camera.
We’re looking forward to getting our hands on the new Sony Xperia phones – literally. That transparent notification bar looks potentially sexy in the press shots, but we’ll reserve judgement till we get up close and personal.
Of course, we’re expecting at least one quad-core smartphone from HTC at Mobile World Congress (but sadly no Samsung Galaxy S III), so we’ll see how much attention Sony can garner in the face of pretty stiff competition.
Like I implied a few paragraphs ago, it’s not all about the specs, but is there room for Sony in an iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC Edge world?