Sony broke with its long-time mobile partner Ericsson late last year in an effort to consolidate its efforts across its line of phones. One of the first big handsets to hit the market post-split is the Xperia Ion, and the verdics are in.
Here’s what the reviewers have to say:
The Verge (6.8) - It’s hard to escape the thought that the compromise Sony made here was cutting the price because it couldn’t release what might have been a flagship phone in its original “Spring” timeline. Even if that’s not the case, it’s simply not a good bet to buy a brand-new Android phone with Gingerbread as the base OS. There are enough good parts to the Xperia ion to make me believe that Sony has the ability to seriously compete in the high-end smartphone market — but it certainly hasn’t done so here. -Dieter Bohn
Engadget - Does inner turmoil make this Xperia a terrible choice for users desperately seeking LTE on a budget? By no means. But, this phone’s potential is only partially untapped — a problem that will eventually be remedied by an upgrade to ICS. The Ion could’ve been a serious contender had Sony not compromised on certain features. -Joseph Volpe
Android Central - If you live in an area that currently has AT&T’s 4G network live then this is quite a value, Ice Cream Sandwich will be coming to the device, and as stated above the display is beautiful and battery life is sufficient to get you through. The decision is your own ultimately, but don’t pass up the phone just because of some specs on a piece of paper, give it a try for yourself. -Jared DiPane
Unfortunately it appears that Sony’s efforts are a little late with this one. The price is right at $100, and LTE is nice, but there are quite simply better phones on the market for the same price.
It’s been quite a while since the first wave of promises of Android 4.0 updates by various manufacturers and carriers. Things are finally starting to pick up this month, with plenty of updates that have already taken place and announced future dates that look to be solid. If you’ve got a Gingerbread phone or Honeycomb tablet sitting around looking sad, take a look at the following list and see if your device will be getting a facelift sometime soon:
Tablet P – updated to Android 4.0.3 on June 16 [source]
Xperia S – updated to Android 4.0 on June 21 OTA [source]
T-Mobile Galaxy S II – updated to Android 4.0.3 on June 11 via Samsung Kies software/not OTA [source]
AT&T Galaxy S II – updated to Android 4.0.3 on June 21 via Samsung Kies software/not OTA [source]
Droid Bionic – still not announced, but leaked 4.0.4 update available without needing root capability [source]
Droid RAZR + RAZR Maxx – updated to 4.0.4 with global GSM roaming capability on June 22 OTA [source]
Toshiba Thrive 7″ and 10″ tablets – scheduled “early this fall” [source]
In addition to Ice Cream Sandwich updates, the Google Play store has just leaked that the Galaxy Nexus will be the first device to receive the next big update to Android – codenamed “Jelly Bean” and numbered 4.1. The information appears when adding a GSM Galaxy Nexus to your cart on the Play Device store, so the source appears to be quite credible. Hopefully more devices will see an update to Android 4.0 before then, as Google’s fragmentation problem just seems to be getting worse as time goes on.
Source: The Verge, GigaOm (cited throughout article)
In the face of a massive $6.4 billion net loss in the last year, Sony is making big changes to turn the tide. Their latest press release has laid out a plan for the next year, refocusing efforts on profitable businesses and trying to turn around or streamline sinking businesses. The broad initiatives of their new strategy are as follows:
1. Strengthening core businesses (Digital Imaging, Game, Mobile)
2. Turning around the television business
3. Expanding business in emerging markets
4. Creating new businesses and accelerating innovation
5. Realigning the business portfolio and optimizing resources
The first two points are clear, showing a shift in focus from the floundering television market to the digital camera, gaming, and smartphone markets. Expanding in emerging markets is a common strategy for large technology companies such as Sony, considering the fact that Asian and South/Central American markets simply aren’t dominated by one single player.
The fourth point in part doubles down on the promise to turn around the TV business, considering the fact that Sony is planning to back 4K resolution televisions in the near future. Finally, the fifth point is the one to blame for a good percentage of the 10K layoffs planned in this transition, as products like small televisions and raw materials like chemicals that go into LCD panels can simply be more efficiently produced by a third-party.
This announcement is the first overarching strategy change since the promotion of Kazuo Hirai to CEO, which many believed to be foreshadowing for a shift in culture for Sony. Whether or not these Sony can spring back from these setbacks remains to be seen, but re-prioritizing more modern products like DSLRs and smartphones is sure to be a positive move.
Fans of Namco Bandai’s tunnel-featuring racer will be ecstatic to hear that long-time Ridge Racer appreciator Kazuo Hirai will be taking the big chair at Sony as President and CEO starting April 1. Hirai comes from Sony Computer Entertainment, and will be replacing Howard Stringer after a somewhat rocky seven year tenure as CEO.
Sony has struggled over the past decade with many of its traditionally strong markets, notably the TV sector, failing to deliver in the face of comoditized hardware and more affordable products on offer by competitors. PlayStation and Sony’s gaming initiatives have been among the company’s strongest performers, so Hirai’s promotion appears to make sense, and shouldn’t come as a surprise after rumblings regarding a changing of guard were rampant last month.
Hirai has been with Sony since 1984 where he started in Sony’s music division. Instrumental in the promotion and development of the PlayStation brand since the original PlayStation in 1995, Hirai should be a familiar face for many of those that have followed the company’s gaming division. He has become something of a public figurehead for SCEA, and is often the face of new product reveals at the yearly Electronic Entertainment Expo.
The timing on this is obviously deliberate as Sony is set to hold it’s fiscal Q3 2012 earnings call tomorrow. Howard Stringer is set to act as executive chairman until his transition to chairman of the board in June.
Last October, Sony announced plans of acquiring Ericsson’s 50% of stock in Sony Ericsson – a joint venture started about 10 years earlier that saw a fair amount of success until Apple’s iPhone popped up in 2007. Sony’s stated intention was to better unite their smartphone, tablet, and handheld gaming lines. According to Reuters, the EU has approved the bid that not only includes Ericsson’s stock but also a healthy patent portfolio that might help Sony protect other devices with wireless connectivity like the Tablet S and PlayStation Vita.
Google TV hasn’t been a roaring success for the search giant. In fact, it has been a rocky road for the platform with Logitech experiencing seeing a fairly negative consumer reception as Google TV’s flagship product, but Google is ramping up for round 2 at CES 2012.
Google put out a preview of its forthcoming CES announcements pointing to a slew of new partners for its recently revamped TV offering. Partners include LG, Marvell, MediaTek, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio. These partnerships will result in TVs with Google TV built-in, set-top boxes, and other supported devices.
A few announcements from individual partners point to some of the new devices utilizing Google TV’s new support for ARM processors. Specialized remotes with QWERTY mini keyboards and support for 3D content are also in the cards.
Samsung and Sony entered a joint venture for the future development and production of LCD screens in 2004 called S-LCD. Since then, the LCD market has exploded, but Sony is ready to let Samsung have full control of the two companies’ particular effort.
This news follows a recent $1.2 billion annual loss by Sony that was attributed to reduced demand in its television division. Samsung will buy-out Sony’s 50 percent share of the venture for 1.08 trillion won ($939 million). Sony says the two companies will continue to collaborate on LCD technology in the future.
The full transfer of S-LCD to Samsung is set to be complete by the end of January 2012.
Since the initial unveil of Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”, plenty of details have spilled out from manufacturers, carriers, and Google itself. With every new version of Android comes a lot of questions as to whether it’ll support older devices or certain features, so we’ll try to clear up some of that confusion here.
First, let’s start with some features that Google didn’t really spotlight in their initial unveil. Native stylus support is one of these features, building hooks into the Android API to recognize between a pen and fingertip as well as respond specifically to touches with differing pressure. This software-level integration piggybacks on initial ideas from the HTC Flyer and Samsung Galaxy Note, but still places the impetus on manufacturers to provide hardware solutions. Another feature that wasn’t well explained was the barometer in the Galaxy Nexus, which Android engineer Dan Morrill explains provides altitude readings to the GPS program to more rapidly acquire the user’s location by satellite.
Recently announced Droid RAZR
Manufacturer distribution of firmware updates to Android have been spotty in the past, but this version seems to have much more promise as far as widespread adoption is concerned. In fact, Director of Android User Experience Matias Duarte said that 4.0 “theoretically should work for any 2.3 [Gingerbread] device” The following devices are confirmed to either release with Android 4.0 or be updated in the future, though firm dating is universally ambiguous:
Finally, a list of carriers that the Galaxy Nexus has grown over the past week through leaks and directly from carriers. So far, the device should be coming to Verizon, NTT Docomo, Three UK, Vodafone, and O2 in November.