Sony-Ericsson Chooses Android Over Symbian: So What?

Sony Ericsson (s sne) (s eric) has no current plans to use Nokia’s (s nok) Symbian platform to power smartphones going forward and is instead turning to Google (s goog) Android for future handsets, says a company spokesperson. The remarks came from a phone conversation between Bloomberg-BusinessWeek and Aldo Liguori of Sony Ericsson on Friday, and on the surface, might appear to be another nail in Nokia’s coffin.The situation is more in line with recent comments from Nokia’s outgoing executive, Anssi Vanjoki, who last week said hardware makers adopting Android is akin to “Finnish boys who ‘pee in their pants’ for warmth in the winter. Temporary relief is followed by an even worse predicament.”

Although Sony Ericsson has used Symbian in the past and does make solid handsets, the company is a relatively small player in the worldwide smartphone market, and it becomes an even smaller player as time passes. Recent worldwide market share numbers from Gartner show Sony Ericsson’s share of the smartphone market has dropped to 3.4 percent in the second quarter of 2010, down from 4.7 percent in the same quarter a year prior. No new Symbian products from SE may add slightly little more pressure to the overall market share of Symbian devices, which Gartner pegged at 34.2 percent in the same report, but won’t halt any momentum Nokia is building with its new platform and devices.

Sony Ericsson may find temporarily relief by embracing Android, but only because the company’s significance in smartphones is fading, and there’s no guarantee the company will benefit as much as others have by using Android, either. Earlier Android handsets such as the Xperia X10 initially looked stellar when it came to the user interface and hardware shown off in 2009, but are hampered by older versions of Android, which don’t compete well against handsets using the latest and greatest version of Google’s platform.

Maybe by focusing solely on Android, Sony Ericsson can get software updates out faster and thus gain more relevance. Just last week, the company announced a delay of Android 2.1 for the X10, a phone that launched last year and still runs on a lowly version of Android 1.6. By the time X10 owners get Android 2.1, many other handsets will have already seen 2.2. Indeed, watching another company defect to the Android army isn’t good for Nokia, but it’s more of a moral defeat than a material one. Indeed, I’d think the relatively slower pace of Symbian maturity would better suit Sony Ericsson as opposed to the faster-moving Android platform.

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