Sony Ericsson has taken to its official product blog to show off Android 2.1 working on the top-of-the-range Xperia X10. Continuous HD autofocus, more homescreens, power-saving widgets and added icon space are all being lined up alongside regular 2.1 improvements such as integrated mailboxes, Google Goggles and Exchange support.
This would have been exciting back at the phone’s launch in April. But the update isn’t due until the end of October and even then it depends on the networks giving it the green light.
That means the X10 could still be stuck on Android 1.6 until the end of 2010. By that point, Android 3.0 Gingerbread will doubtless have been unveiled, while all of the X10’s key rivals, including the HTC Desire, Desire HD and Desire Z, will have Android 2.2 sitting on board.
How it’s come to this is baffling and why Sony Ericsson is bothering to try out Android 2.1 is of great concern. Why not just go straight to FroYo? It seems the X10 might not be able to play nice with the very latest Android software, which means a phone that offers great promise in the hardware stakes is incapable of competing with other Android phones.
The X10 is, frankly, finished. Samsung and HTC have both been surging ahead when it comes to Android, but Sony Ericsson’s failure to keep pace with the software changes shows that its phones, no matter how great they look, cannot go toe-to-toe and expect to win.
That’s not to say Samsung and HTC haven’t had problems. That latter is still battling to get Android 2.2 onto the Desire. But at least that phone, which landed at the same time as the X10, had 2.1 from the get go. HTC’s issues with FroYo have largely been put down to its insistence on using HTC Sense.
It would be hard to argue that Sony Ericsson’s Timescape and Mediascape skins haven’t caused similar problems, except that the X10 is still stranded on Android 1.6. Sony Ericsson needs to release this upgrade stat and then ensure a further boost is ready almost immediately in order to keep the X10 relevant.
But that’s unlikely to happen, leaving it floundering as newer phones burst onto the scene. If you’re an X10 owner, this is bad news, especially as this 2.1 upgrade was supposed to happen months ago.
Google also needs to ensure that such updates are rolled out properly. This delay not only reflects badly on Sony Ericsson, it reflects badly on the Big G too. There needs to be a more uniform approach in getting these software boosts out and Google needs to get OEMs round the table to fix the problem. Otherwise, Android fragmentation will only gather pace, leaving itself wide open to attacks from Apple and Microsoft.