Android: Shaken or Stirred?

The Android army includes a few secret agents. We're talking classy spies here -- think 007, resplendent in a classy dinner jacket with a shaken martini close at hand.

The newest ally on the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) side of the smartphone street is Sony Ericsson, the money-losing handset venture between LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC  ) and Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) . Sony Ericsson is launching the Xperia X10 Android phone, a smartly appointed potential rival to high-end phones like the Droid and the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone.

The X10 is presented as the flagship model of a coming line of new Sony Ericsson phones. Hitting store shelves in the first half of 2010, it comes with a full-featured 8-megapixel camera, a 4-inch OLED touchscreen, a high-powered Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM  ) Snapdragon processor, and designer-kissed curves. The X10 runs Sony Ericsson's own UX user interface -- a platform that allows for robust social networking and more robust media browsing -- on top of the Android operating system. Plus, the phone is offered in a color scheme that Sony Ericsson describes as “Sensuous Black.” How svelte.

You wouldn't know it was an Android without a magnifying glass, though. The press release presents it as "the Open OS," and the Android moniker shows up only three times, in the technical fact sheet and in an offhand mention of the Android application store.

That's different from the Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) Wireless and Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) Droid and a plethora of other Androids, because most gadget builders like to trumpet their choice of operating system from the rooftops. Still, I strongly suspect that Sony Ericsson's strategy is A-OK with Google.

Go ahead and hide the standard Android interface behind a snazzy new digital experience. You wouldn't really expect a Sony-branded phone to look and feel exactly like a Motorola gadget, would you? And as long as users can connect to the Android store and install applications that were designed for the Android, well, who cares if there isn't a massive Android logo on the phone, Google stickers on the box, and so forth?

Google isn't backing the Android platform to push the Android brand. It's all about placing fancy phones capable of browsing the Web on every belt. Whether the phone you're using happens to be an Android, an iPhone, or any other smartphone, you will probably end up Googling around a bit. When the market for Internet traffic grows, Google wins. The Android is just a means to that end.

Time will tell whether Sony Ericsson’s strategy of unleashing a wave of Android phones will further its own goals as well. Much like Motorola and other handset makers without a strong software platform, Sony Ericsson can utilize the Android OS as a means to catch up with competitors such as Apple. However, with a glut of Android-powered phones being announced, we’ll have to wait and see whether Sony Ericsson’s styling and UX interface are enough to separate it from the pack.

Do you dig Sony Ericsson’s new phone? Drop a note in the comments box below and let us know what phone you’re planning on buying next.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (6)

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  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 1:28 PM, pkr8ch wrote:

    Is this phone going to be released in the US? If so which carrier? I'de take this over the droid. Faster processor, better camera. Although I'm not sure why it doesn't have Android 2.0.

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 1:36 PM, kpinvest wrote:

    It will be released this Friday, and (from what I can tell) will be available to the big four carriers: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

    It will also support tethering in 2010 *happy face*

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 3:37 PM, JohnyRoberts wrote:

    It doesn't seem to have a keyboard either.

    I have seen posts mentioning tethering support in 2010. There are already Android apps that provide tethering support. And they don't need the phone to be rooted either. They are not in the Market, but a simple Google search will find it (http://android.a0soft.com/?url=aNetShare.htm).

    So I'm not sure why this is even being brought up - and for 2010.

  • Report this Comment On November 04, 2009, at 4:22 PM, TMFRhino wrote:

    Hey All,

    Just a note because I'd seen the release date discussed. The phone will not be out until next year, and I didn't see any announcements of which carriers will be using the phone stateside.

    Here's the press release:

    http://www.sonyericsson.com/cws/corporate/press/pressrelease...

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