Sony Ericsson mum on Froyo upgrade plans

The company still thinks its own additions to Android are more valuable

Sony Ericsson is keeping its plans for Android 2.2, also known as Froyo, under wraps, for now.

The company will be implementing later versions of Android in its products, but at this stage it is premature to disclose information about individual products, Mattias Holm, product public relations manager at Sony Ericsson, said via e-mail.

The company has announced three Android-based phones: the Xperia X10, X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro. The Xperia X10 has gone on sale in most parts of the world, and the two Mini models are about to hit the market. They will all use version 1.6 of Android until the fourth quarter when an upgrade to version 2.1 will arrive, the company said May 5.

Like many other vendors, Sony Ericsson has added its own flavor to the Android user interface. Sony Ericsson's UX platform includes Timescape and Mediascape, applications that keep track of and organize messages such as Twitter posts, Facebook updates and text messages, as well as phone calls and multimedia.

The UX platform will also be upgraded during the fourth quarter, according to Sony Ericsson.

The addition of the UX platform means it takes longer to upgrade to the newest version of Android, but Sony Ericsson believes that applications such as Timescape and Mediascape is what consumers want as opposed to just specs or vanilla features, according to Holm.

For the strategy to succeed, Sony Ericsson will have to upgrade the UX platform at the same frequency that Google upgrades the Android OS, according to Ben Wood, analyst at CCS Insight. That will be a challenge, and maybe it would be better for smartphone vendors with limited resources, like Sony Ericsson and Motorola, to move closer to the standard version of Android, he said.

Users won't pick up Sony Ericsson's Xperia X10 Mini Pro because it has Timescape, but because of its design, according to Wood.

Android version 2.2 comes with improved performance, built-in support for Flash and cloud-to-device messaging, which, for example, lets users move a browsing session from a PC to a smartphone.

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