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Sony brings it’s A-game to Mobile World Congress

Sony has been on a rather long journey. Way back before the joint venture with Ericsson, the company was delivering some highly useful devices. The Sony CMD-Z5, for any of the ultra-geeks reading, was a high point for me. It actually had on-board integrated voicemail!

The Ericsson joint venture arrived and quickly the company went from strength to strength, delivering some phenomenally successful devices — do you recall the Sony Ericsson T610? One of the company’s biggest sellers. They really were rocking.

By the time the joint venture hit Android, the goodness from my standpoint had begun to wane. Producing devices running Android 1-point-something when the rest of the market was already way beyond that level was rather depressing to see. The company, it seems, couldn’t quite handle the pace. Some of the on-board bundled software was simply shocking. What was it called? Sony Timescape or something like that? I’ve blocked it out of my mind.

I think it’s fair to say that the company’s star had begun to fade. The ‘PlayStation’ phone — the Xperia Play — was a high point, I was particularly delighted with the Mini too — that was smart. But against a crowded Android playing field, I really did feel that Sony Ericsson was struggling.

Fast forward to today and now, Sony is back in control of it’s mobile destiny. This is beginning to show.

For example, I’m seeing references all over the place to “Mobile Bravia” screen technology (“Reality Display powered by Mobile BRAVIA Engine”). Smart, right? Because the megabrand has spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars already educating the market on the Bravia brand.

The company launched three devices today:

I won’t go into the specific details of each, except to say that the company has demonstrably given a good amount of thought to it’s offering.

I do feel it’s increasingly difficult for manufacturers of Android to deliver anything that’s likely to astound the industry, given that it’s usually Google that announces the cool stuff, leaving the OEMs to actually bring it to market 6-9 months later.

Perhaps the most stimulating element of this new range is the little “transparent element”. Here’s the press release copy to explain:

These smartphones have intriguing design features including the “transparent element”, a band that encircles the base of the phone and also integrates invisible antenna components. The transparent element illuminates when receiving calls, texts and notifications.

This is smart. It’s certainly going to easily contrast the range against other competing devices. And let me tell you now, if it’s a choice between a bog-standard top-of-the-range boring grey HTC with no character and an Xperia S, I reckon the majority of consumers will immediately plump for the Sony. Put simply, there will be limited difference in the consumer eyes, especially when specifications are broadly similar.

Sony’s also brought it’s other considerably influential assets to the range thus:

As with Xperia S, Xperia P and Xperia U connect consumers to premium entertainment experiences with access to the Sony Entertainment Network*. Out of the box, consumers can watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters on Video Unlimited or listen to millions and millions of songs** through Music Unlimited.

I’ll need to take a closer look at these offerings. Hopefully they rock. Hopefully they’re delivered properly. I still have nightmares about my utterly rubbish experience with Sony when I was trying to stick music on my Sony MiniDisc and MP3 players.

I will definitely go and take a look at the devices to give you my “hands on” perspective. I wanted to get a post out now just to document the company’s news.

On the face of it — and based on the company’s ultra slick presentation layer — I think they’re certainly bringing their A-game to the industry.

Have a look, for example, at they way they’ve presented tonight’s “press release” (do have a look). It’s chock-full of high-res imagery, it’s beautifully designed, it’s peppered with HD videos that present the company in a brilliant light. I did have a concern that Sony might actually place little importance on it’s new wholly owned mobile operating division. Based on tonight’s announcements, I think they’re certainly one to watch. I think they’ve got their mojo back.

Update: By the way, if you’re thinking about getting a Sony Xperia U device, T-Mobile UK will be ranging it in the second quarter of this year.

Update 2: Plus, you’ll be able to get it in White from Orange UK around the same time.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

One reply on “Sony brings it’s A-game to Mobile World Congress”

I’ve been sold on the Xperia S since CES.. Once they update to Android 4, by law they have to offer the vanilla interface to users as an option. These are much classier looking than the devices from Samsung and HTC, and they’re very competitively priced.

Roll on next Tuesday when it goes on sale. I’m expecting them to do very well in operator subsidised markets.

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