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Sony's Problem In Mobile, Is Sony (a pretty phone is not enough)


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Posted by Tsepz_GP
I was 13 years old when I bought my first Sony Walkman. Those were the days weren’t they? It was portable, affordable, and everything that it did, it did so well it never found true competition. I then followed with my first Sony Diskman, my first Sony WEGA Flat TV, my first Genezi Stereo system, and even if my first PDA wasn’t a Sony Clie (remember those?), it was a Clie that a friend owned what inspired me to buy my first Pocket PC.

Sony owned my wallet for at least the first half of my life. They had the design, the quality, the durability, and the reputation. It wasn’t cheap to own a Sony product, but it was worth every penny if you did. Back when Apple admired and copied Sony in every way and were still struggling to figure out what they wanted to sell, Sony was the BMW of electronics.

Do any of you remember the Sony Xperia X1? Oh man, I think one of our most epic moments in our origins of video was the moment Brandon unboxed it. We all said wow just as much as he did. The collaboration between Sony, HTC and Microsoft rendered one of the most iconic smartphones in Windows Mobile history. Sadly for Sony though, Apple had learned how to be Sony so well, that the iPhone simply devoured the X1 and even X2 from the spotlight.

The rest is sadly history. If you go to Europe you will see a fair share of Xperias every now and then, but it’s clear that Sony’s worst mistake was allowing Ericsson to handle their mobile division. I know there are still some of you die-hard Sony Ericsson fans who will disagree with me, so I’ll just use Android as an example. Remember the Xperia X10? Remember how it took for ever to launch in the US, and only to be served with Cup Cake at times when Froyo was already launched? And don’t even let me get started with its end-of-the-road with Eclair.

Fact of the matter is Sony Ericsson made too many mistakes with the Xperia. Whether it was Software updates, like the time they made us wait for delays and more delays with the Xperia S during the transition to Sony, or the fact that the hardware didn’t last at all, Sony’s big reputation for quality is just hard to see in their Xperia line-up.

What can we say about Sony’s 2013 line-up of Xperia devices? We’ve already reviewed the Xperia Z, but as I got the Xperia ZL for review last week, I’ve got a couple of thoughts of what’s good, and what’s bad. Please share your thoughts in the comments at the end as well.

Sony can’t be Sony to win in mobile
Sony Ericsson’s Xperia line-up had one good and two very bad things historically. On the positive side, Sony always did a great job in pushing hardware to the limit when it came to design, but they always ran last-year’s processor and last-year’s software. In a way, Sony has been that kind of company. They were rarely ever the first to get to any market, but where they attacked, they were always the best. They definitely used their brand to leverage their consumer appeal, and I’m sure it works for their TV and Stereo line-ups, but mobile is a different animal.

In mobile, brand will only get you so far, if not ask HP. With Android being non-exclusive to Sony, they can’t just decide to push a beautiful phone with Android 4.1.2 at times when the Galaxy S 4 will run Android 4.2.2 and we’ve already received confirmation of their Android 5.0 plans. It can’t stick to the Snapdragon S4 Pro when HTC already has the Snapdragon 600 on their HTC One. The Galaxy S 4 has Hexa-band LTE and Sony can’t even figure out how to get Penta-band 3G in all their variants of the Xperia Z if you noticed in our review. It doesn’t matter how big the Sony brand is, the Android consumer is an educated consumer. He or she won’t buy just for the design alone, but for the whole package of features. At times when Samsung doesn’t think twice about giving users replaceable everything, or HTC doesn’t think twice about pushing design techniques to the limit, or Apple doesn’t think twice about creating an ecosystem out of nothing, Sony’s brand, history and even their set of companies are really worthless. Yes, isn’t it an irony that Apple serves movies and music better than Sony who owns a movie studio and a record label.

What does Sony need to do? They need to forget about who they are, and begin to focus on whom they want to serve.

Sony’s Software department needs to ship-in or go home
One of Jelly Bean’s killer features was to allow you to re-arrange your widgets without having to remove things or resize things. Jelly Bean was designed to be smart about it for you. Try doing that on any of the current Xperia smartphones running Jelly Bean. As stupid as it may sound to you, Sony’s UI doesn’t allow you to.

Why oh why have they decided to break what didn’t need to be fixed? Call this stupid, but where’s the common sense in this change? Yes, I’ll admit that Sony has done a much better job in stripping down their customizations of Android with their new Xperia line-up, but sadly the software team didn’t seem to get the full memo of what Jelly Bean can do.

I think Sony would’ve been better off shipping their Xperias with Stock Android. Can you imagine a Nexus Z made by Sony? Waterproof design, great camera and all, it would’ve been an instant hit.

The bottom line
Imagine buying a beautiful BMW for a minute, and then open the doors to find yourself on non-leather interiors. Would you buy it? Even if it were a BMW, would you buy it if you knew that Audi would give you the full package for the same amount of money?

Sony did a smart move in going Android a couple of years ago, but I just don’t feel they’re bold enough to understand the Android customer. We don’t want brands we want power. We want beautiful design and we want it without compromise. We want an elegant experience with common-sense enhancements, and not arbitrary changes that simply don’t make sense. And more important, we don’t want excuses, because whatever Sony can’t satisfy, Samsung and HTC will.

I honor Sony’s designers for the Xperia Z and ZL. I can’t help but remind you all of how beautiful these two phones are, and how much I’m enjoying my experience reviewing the ZL from a hardware standpoint. Be it plastic if you want, but it’s the best plastic I’ve ever felt in my hand. A true 5-inch display that I can actually operate with one hand because of the minimum bezel. There’s seriously a lot of genius in this design. Sadly software is a different story, and Sony really needs to change their mobile strategy if they want to make a dent in everybody else’s universe.


http://pocketnow.com/2013/03/[....]+pocketnow+%28pocketnow.com%29

Powerful article by PocketNow, have to say, they have hit the nail on the head, and have also made me aware of things I had no idea about WRT the Z and the Sony Android UI. What do you guys think? It's not an attempt to bash Sony, but rather a look at why they are no longer successful and why they are not able to be the number one Android OEM.

Thanks to Sean for the link.
[ This Message was edited by: Tsepz_GP on 2013-03-19 08:01 ]

[ This Message was edited by: laffen on 2013-03-19 08:42 ]



Posted by Ranjith
Must say its a beautiful and spot on Article.SONY somehow has managed to be a tiny step behind the competition always.A tiny step that matters a lot.and its very disturbing to see them make silly mistakes even with their rich heritage!they have always missed out on small things that mattered.a built in 3.5mm jack comes into my mind!
Z seems to be much better than their previous attempts though,does give some edge over its competition in design at least.
[ This Message was edited by: Ranjith on 2013-03-19 08:58 ]


Posted by >500
WRT to the whole launching with 4.2.2 thing. It isn't just Sony, the HTC One is launching with 4.1.2.

The Galaxy S4 is coming out late April, nearly 2 months after the Z was released. And a flagship launching in late April, SHOULD be launching with 4.2.2. Whether its Sony, or Samsung, HTC etc etc.

I said it in the s4 thread, Id put money on Sony having the 4.2.2 update before the s4 is actually released.

Having worked with mobiles for a number of years now, I can safely say all manufacturers have software issues with new products. Even Apple!
[ This Message was edited by: >500 on 2013-03-19 10:53 ]


Posted by Dups!
I was nodding yes all the way until the author wrote that Sony made a mistake by allowing Ericsson to handle THEIR mobile division. RUBBISH, UTTER RUBBISH!!!


Sony screwed up Sony Ericsson when they took charge of the company. I am not going to get into details some of the people here know very well, but Ericsson made a huge mistake by accepting Sony' request to form a joint-venture.



Posted by mediar

On 2013-03-19 17:11:37, Dups! wrote:
I was nodding yes all the way until the author wrote that Sony made a mistake by allowing Ericsson to handle THEIR mobile division. RUBBISH, UTTER RUBBISH!!!

Sony screwed up Sony Ericsson when they took charge of the company. I am not going to get into details some of the people here know very well, but Ericsson made a huge mistake by accepting Sony' request to form a joint-venture.


+1

Sony was the one to screw Sony Ericsson in 2006, when they said "No, no, we've got this!". And we all know what happened afterwards. Right when was back on track in 2011, Sony decided screw everything for the second time. It seems Sony just couldn't stand the fact Sony Ericsson phones were selling well again. 2011 Xperias were the last great Xperias, they were running GB flawless just two months after its release in November 2010, and had the most beautiful Android skin ever made. Their only mistake was their choice for CPU and RAM amount. And, of course, ruining the great devices with the worst ICS update an year later. Their 2012 UI was crap, the design got ugly and boring, dated OS with many limitations, filled with a variety of bugs and all kind of major flaws. In 2013, the screen panels, used in their phones, are even worse than the one, used in the last UIQ touchscreens... WTF Sony?! If you don't know how to handle your mobile division, sell it! I'm sure Ericsson knows how to sell mobile phones, unlike you!
[ This Message was edited by: mediar on 2013-03-19 16:39 ]


Posted by Ranjith

On 2013-03-19 11:49:32, >500 wrote:

The Galaxy S4 is coming out late April, nearly 2 months after the Z was released. And a flagship launching in late April, SHOULD be launching with 4.2.2. Whether its Sony, or Samsung, HTC etc etc.
ware issues with new products. Even Apple!
[ This Message was edited by: >500 on 2013-03-19 10:53 ]


exactly Something i dont understand around the forum!XZ has launched much before S4,so naturally it wont have 4.2.2.but will SONY provide 4.2.2 ASAP is what matters.



Posted by Bonovox
Yep,I agree with alot of it. Imagine though a Sony with vanila Android like the Nexus,now that would be amazing!!!!! @Tsepz_GP,I shared it with you on FB cos I knew that was exactly what you were thinking!!
[ This Message was edited by: Sean72 on 2013-03-19 17:54 ]


Posted by RandomCarpet
Though there are many correct points (about the past), his points against Xperia Z have no real grounding at all. The article pretends to present an expert opinion, but is very, very far from it.

Posted by se_dude
Ironically, the pretty phone can take more stick than the Galaxy S4 ever can.

Posted by bronxdude

On 2013-03-19 17:11:37, Dups! wrote:
Sony screwed up Sony Ericsson when they took charge of the company. I am not going to get into details some of the people here know very well, but Ericsson made a huge mistake by accepting Sony' request to form a joint-venture.



Hi Dups!

If you dont mind, please share with me how sony screwed up the joint venture? if its too sensitive, send it to me via PM. I wanna know what happened as I love very much

Thanks
[ This Message was edited by: bronxdude on 2013-03-19 18:30 ]


Posted by motvikt

On 2013-03-19 19:28:57, bronxdude wrote:

On 2013-03-19 17:11:37, Dups! wrote:
Sony screwed up Sony Ericsson when they took charge of the company. I am not going to get into details some of the people here know very well, but Ericsson made a huge mistake by accepting Sony' request to form a joint-venture.



Hi Dups!

If you dont mind, please share with me how sony screwed up the joint venture? if its too sensitive, send it to me via PM. I wanna know what happened as I love very much

Thanks
[ This Message was edited by: bronxdude on 2013-03-19 18:30 ]



Ericsson was forced into the JV because of a fire in a factory that nearly bankrupted them. t68 and later t610 were Ericsson phones and they helped SE become successful. It went downhill with hideki komiyama as CEO and they lost all innovation.

What most people don't understand is that SE has been a Sony run company since 2007 when Ericsson took the back seat. Bert Nordberg came in to "clean up" the company so Ericsson could sell it to Sony. He also brought many good things like an openness towards developers (xda, open bootloaders, etc). I have heard many SE engineers complain about the japanese management and how unwilling they were to share technology etc (I read somewhere that it was common for the different departments in Sony to fight each other).

I'm so sick and tired of people who try to blame Ericsson for the SE's failure. Sony was a shitty company until recently when Kaz hirai became CEO. They dragged SE down with all their proprietary stuff like memorycards and their own data-connections, refused to share technology, locked their devices down.

Sony today is a much better company compared to a couple of years ago and that is why they are doing better in the mobile space. Don't blame Ericsson, Sony today it is basically the same company as SE, only a different name.

Posted by Bialynia
I might add that having used the Nexus 4 and a recent Samsung (not a galaxy) I don't get the attacks on the Sony software. Sony puts a very mild skin on vanilla android, and in my view makes it both easier and better, I couldn't stand the vanilla android on the nexus.

Posted by jplacson

On 2013-03-19 20:36:11, motvikt wrote:

On 2013-03-19 19:28:57, bronxdude wrote:

On 2013-03-19 17:11:37, Dups! wrote:
Sony screwed up Sony Ericsson when they took charge of the company. I am not going to get into details some of the people here know very well, but Ericsson made a huge mistake by accepting Sony' request to form a joint-venture.



Hi Dups!

If you dont mind, please share with me how sony screwed up the joint venture? if its too sensitive, send it to me via PM. I wanna know what happened as I love very much

Thanks
[ This Message was edited by: bronxdude on 2013-03-19 18:30 ]



Ericsson was forced into the JV because of a fire in a factory that nearly bankrupted them. t68 and later t610 were Ericsson phones and they helped SE become successful. It went downhill with hideki komiyama as CEO and they lost all innovation.

What most people don't understand is that SE has been a Sony run company since 2007 when Ericsson took the back seat. Bert Nordberg came in to "clean up" the company so Ericsson could sell it to Sony. He also brought many good things like an openness towards developers (xda, open bootloaders, etc). I have heard many SE engineers complain about the japanese management and how unwilling they were to share technology etc (I read somewhere that it was common for the different departments in Sony to fight each other).

I'm so sick and tired of people who try to blame Ericsson for the SE's failure. Sony was a shitty company until recently when Kaz hirai became CEO. They dragged SE down with all their proprietary stuff like memorycards and their own data-connections, refused to share technology, locked their devices down.

Sony today is a much better company compared to a couple of years ago and that is why they are doing better in the mobile space. Don't blame Ericsson, Sony today it is basically the same company as SE, only a different name.


I totally agree. Been an fan since my GH688/GF788 days. And all the tech that was good in came from

The P-series of came from the Quartz/UIQ prototype of all Sony did was give us baby blue phones, and impose the crappy MemoryStick (::: original platform for the P800 used SD cards).

Up until the Xperia line, all ever dished out was rehashed versions of the Quartz/UIQ and the T68m (aka the T68i under the brand) the P1i being the only mild departure from contributions. (I still think that keyboard was brilliant)

I am a fan of the Xperias. I think that was a good move to revive the company, even if it was slated to become Sony.

For whatever reason, Sony never seemed to put much effort into their mobile division... when they originally had one before the merger... even during the merger... until now.

But one thing has been consistent though.. from to to Sony... their software has always been the issue.

Sony has taken an unofficial route to solve the problem. The FreeXperia program is supported by Sony to develop better custom ROMs for their Xperia line, for those that want the Vanilla Android Experience all without sacrificing the easy user experience of their Sony Xperia UI (my mom has an easier time with the stock UI, so Sony must be doing something right by removing certain features of Android for less tech-savvy people)

Although I don't use the stock Sony Home, I also don't bother with custom ROMs. Apex Launcher is good enough for me until the official JB updates are out.

I'm hopeful for Sony, as they seem to have gotten a good slap in the face to wake up.



Posted by Supa_Fly
I have to disagree and say utter bull.

Where is the proof that development for P series was based on SD cards? Back then the Memory Stick had faster data read and write speeds - huge thread here on it some years back, take a search and read, along with larger memory sizes. Recall transFlash, the original name of MicroSD before it was accepted didn't exist then.

Also P series encompass a lot of varying models mist of which are NOT blue.

Sony brought Media experience to the mobile industry which kicked Motorola's 3 attempts using partnership with Apple at bay for years! This experience is the main reason why the 650, we800 and many others where so successful! You guys are knocking Sony yet they brought so much to the game that we enjoyed?? I don't get the bashing.

Ericsson brought mobile expertise especially since they build networks! This partnership was sound yet execution over the years was not done right. Hindsight is 20/20.

The P-Series existed to continue the tradition into smartphones that the R385 did, no? (I may have that model wrong, it should be the Psion model)

Posted by Supa_Fly
I have to disagree and say utter bull.

Where is the proof that development for P series was based on SD cards? Back then the Memory Stick had faster data read and write speeds - huge thread here on it some years back, take a search and read, along with larger memory sizes. Recall transFlash, the original name of MicroSD before it was accepted didn't exist then. P800|P900|P910|P990|P1, not to mention the M600/608|W950|960 all used MemoryStick slots & internal memory respectively.

yet which company was responsible for the desgin and which was responsible for the chipset/mobo/baseband of the Xperia X1

Also P series encompass a lot of varying models mist of which are NOT blue.

Sony brought Media experience to the mobile industry which kicked Motorola's 3 attempts using partnership with Apple at bay for years! This experience is the main reason why the K750|W800|W810 and many others where so successful! You guys are knocking Sony yet they brought so much to the game that we enjoyed?? I don't get the bashing.

Ericsson brought mobile expertise especially since they build networks! This partnership was sound yet execution over the years was not done right. Hindsight is 20/20.

The P-Series existed to continue the tradition into smartphones that the R385 did, no? (I may have that model wrong, it should be the Psion model)

EDIT updated phone models as I was mistaken.
[ This Message was edited by: Hardened on 2013-03-20 10:58 ]


Posted by RandomCarpet
I don't agree that 's problem has always been the software.

Can you tell me why P800, P900, P910, P990, M600, P1, G700 and G900 all used the same CPU (only the RAM was slightly increased in the last 3 models)? The first one came out in 2003 and the last one in 2008. What were thinking??? Can you deny that Nokia N95 was so successful, mostly because it had a far superior CPU and GPU than the ones used by its competition?

The OS used in their feature phones, which I dare to say was probably the best among all feature phone OSes (most feature rich, most logical and mature UI). Even Nokia's S40 was a joke compared to it) was developed in Sweden by either or former people.

UIQ was also miles ahead of S60 (75% of S60 users did not even know they were using a smartphone), but never became popular enough and it was also developed in Sweden and I don't think Sony has anything to do with it.

P.S.: Steve Jobbs declared that he admires his P800 and its OS (Symbian with UIQ) back in 2003.
[ This Message was edited by: RandomCarpet on 2013-03-20 13:14 ]


Posted by puestadelsol

On 2013-03-20 10:51:01, Hardened wrote:

Sony brought Media experience to the mobile industry which kicked Motorola's 3 attempts using partnership with Apple at bay for years! This experience is the main reason why the K750|W800|W810 and many others where so successful! You guys are knocking Sony yet they brought so much to the game that we enjoyed?? I don't get the bashing.

Ericsson brought mobile expertise especially since they build networks! This partnership was sound yet execution over the years was not done right. Hindsight is 20/20.



If you don't believe worlds, just check these





Ericsson offered these in their stunning designed phones (compared to Sony's toy-phone desing) in 2000-2001. I think the concept of making all in one media phones evolved since than. Practically in the first 1-2 years all the SE phones was rebranded Ericsson phones with slight design changes. By the time came the back button, Memory Stick, etc., but all the SE phones was Ericsson in core with Sony's garnish and so evolved forth. Than came the Walkman and Cyber-shot, which very soon burnt out and became just unimportant brandings. For example the K750 without any branding could have represent CS or W, because there was important the philosophy behind the phone, not the label.
[ This Message was edited by: puestadelsol on 2013-03-21 06:50 ]


Posted by jplacson
Ah memories! I had most of those except the Chatboard and MP3 player. I used to have the laser pointer as well

Posted by semo
In 2005 with K750/W800, was at least a year ahead of competition, a fully all-in-one device, was flying above everyone else. Phones with great cameras, great music players, with a memory card, just amazing. And this is when Sony interfered. Why? Because they were selling Sony pocket cameras, Sony walkmans (at that time with very stupid file-transfer limitations). Moreover Sony was selling content which they didn't want to be easily transfered to memory sticks. I think that Sony just didn't have a good view for what is coming in the future. But from what I know (from Eldar at MR) the real turning point for was when they asked Sony to integrate also PlayStation into their phones. And at that time (~2006/2007) it could have been extremely successful and this finaly made Sony decide to slow SE down. They couldn't accept being better than Sony and also sharing income with Ericsson. Maybe around that time the bosses in Sony decided to try to make the joint-venture fail in order to buy it out later. And you all know what happened after. started releasing same phones with different designs, Nokia started making better cameras, and Apple came to mobile market, and this agony lasted for years (except for great designs and some occasional sparks) until the buyout. Now Sony has full control and they want to make Sony mobile the best again, but hopefully it is not too late.
[ This Message was edited by: semo on 2013-03-21 10:48 ]


Posted by Dups!
@motvikt, puestadelsol and semo


BRAVO!!!

You guys covered it all! I also, like semo, think Sony deliberately set SE up for failure so they can have their own mobile arm. Shameful but also a shrewd business move or plan, the only question is has it worked out? From where I stand it isn't clear, maybe still early... time will tell.

@bronxdude

I hope the three gentlemen answered your question. Sorry if any of you guys are girls.



Posted by Tsepz_GP
I think they answered brilliantly, I'm actually amazed by Semo's explanation, which makes a whole lot of sense, it really explains what went so wrong with .

I wasn't even in my teens when Sony and Ericsson merged, I do remember my dad owning a few beautiful Ericsson handsets, so I'm not fully knowledgable on what went on back then, I became fully aware of how the phone industry works only around the time of the K750/W800, by that point Sony Ericsson were a well established brand. I knew Sony as the maker of my favorite gaming console, favorite tv, favorite music player etc... And only knew Ericsson as a company that made some phones back in the days of non-color screens, so it's always interesting to read the views of those who owned and were into this industry in the days of Ericsson.

Posted by Supa_Fly
puestadelsol,

Dude you're offering items that solidified my point! All your items posted are Ericssson products for Ericsson products not SonyEricsson! So your post is mute and not directly related to my post.

Sony brought:
Adapter and media expertise, and some serious CASH when the collaboration began to fail for 2yrs straight, the documentation is on the web and on these boards. The design of K750/W800 also came from Sony. Ever wonder why the MemoryStick was chosen and was internal and not external?! A Sony phone existed 1.5yrs before then that also had MS featured internally. The headset adapter for those phones, you guessed it was Sony.

I've actually used ALL those accessories with my T18z, T28World, and T-36m x2! I'm much older than you think and mobile phones or smartphones are not a 5yr phenomenon to me



BTW that chatboard was VERY efficient.
[ This Message was edited by: Hardened on 2013-03-26 21:38 ]


Posted by randomuser
Good to see a sane post here, Hardened. Most people here have been saying really big things but all without proof
[ This Message was edited by: randomuser on 2013-03-27 04:58 ]


Posted by puestadelsol
The delayed updates of the 2012 models reflects that Sony's do it yourself strategy is failing. They can't deny Lund's contribution (and Ericsson's, SonyEricsson's heritage) in their phones. That's another matter that if they recognize Lund's work and contribution, they can't state that it's a pure japanese Sony phone (such as 2012 2013 Xperias are pretended like they were desingned and built from zero solely by Sony).
In my opinion they can struggle with brand building by emphasizing in a strained way that it's a Sony Mobile, it's a Sony product with Sony's technology which can be easily connected to other Sony products, BUT they should rely on and mention where they came from, and that (Sony)Ericsson's heritage and expertise also contribute to their present phones as well. In spite of these many Sony fanboys are convinced that even the last 1-2 years Sony Ericsson phones were designed and realised predominantly by Sony. We can wait the One Sony phone, but untill now Xperia phones software development can't miss Lund's work, and based on the camera's and sreen's performance even the Sony hardware doesn't shines too bright (especially in the light of competition).
I don't write this offending Sony, but I don't like the strategy and concept of their new phones, and I write this as a person who have ever had only Ericsson and Sony Ericsson phones, but untill now none of their phones convinced me (in size, specifications and price) to replace my Xperia ray.


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