Sony Ericsson’s official statement below explains that they believe their proprietary enhancements to the Eclair version of Android is competitive enough make the upgrade more effort than it’s worth. They still plan on rolling out smaller updates over the coming months – including adding multitouch – but the core OS will remain as version 2.1 for all current Xperia phones.
We’re planning another upgrade to bring new features (such as multi-touch for Xperia™ X10) to the current family of Xperia™ smartphones in early Q1 (ie: very shortly), however we will not be upgrading the current Xperia™ range beyond Android 2.1. We believe that with the current hardware platform an overhaul of the underlying core OS wouldn’t drastically improve the user experience. Android OS 2.1 coupled with Sony Ericsson’s proprietary upgrades and superior entertainment hardware (8.1 mp camera and HD video recording) delivers a user experience that is on par with, and in many cases better than, a vanilla installation of Android 2.2. Obviously in an ideal world we would keep producing new updates for existing phones forever. However, replacing the base Android version again on the 2010 phones in our view simply doesn’t improve the user experience enough to make it viable.
Our priority right now is to keep enhancing the user experience of the existing products through coming updates and to deliver a fantastic range of smartphones in 2011 that are all on the latest possible version of Android – that is a target we are determined to hit!
Given that one of the reasons it took so long to move from Android 1.6 to 2.1 was the proprietary software running on top of the OS, we’ll have to wait and see whether anyone picking up the Gingerbread-running Xperia Arc will be subjected to the same delayed upgrade path. According to TechRadar, it hopefully won’t be as big a problem, with a Senior Sony Ericsson executive confessing that they weren’t able to “uncouple” the Timescape UI with Android on the X10, but have managed to do it with the upcoming Arc.
The question now is whether or not this move from Sony Ericsson will sway potential customers away from future Xperia handsets?