Remember PlayMemories Online? If you don’t, you’re likely not alone. For those unaware, PlayMemories Online was Sony’s take on iCloud Photo Library or Google Photos. Once the free app was downloaded, compatible devices could sync their photos to Sony’s cloud service and have them populate across connected devices that included Android phones/tablets, Bravia TVs, cameras, and even the PS3/PS4.
Well here is an interesting report that was just released by Apteligent. According to their study which pitted top Android manufactures against one and other, Sony’s Xperia line produces the lowest crash rate among Android smartphones. This is notable because Sony managed to edge out ahead of Motorola, Google’s own produced phones.
HTC and Sony Mobile are two companies that, despite being from different countries, have a lot in common. Like Sony, HTC has dabbled with Windows phones in the past though they rely heavily on Android. Like HTC, Sony once held a much greater market share in the US than they do now. And both companies once saw mobile as a driver of growth, only to be crushed by market realities and their competitors.
Despite their similarities, HTC has enjoyed a lot of success that Sony has only dreamed of. For one, they used to be a darling of the Android community and were able to use their early growth to mount a successful marketing campaign around their products. Samsung may have always been the market leader for Android phones but HTC was able to carve itself a meaningful market for themselves with their powerful phones that attracted enthusiasts. Seeing how the Taiwanese company couldn’t exactly go to toe-to-toe with Samsung and its strong carrier support from Verizon and AT&T, HTC was able to do the next best thing and woo in T-Mobile, known as the Un-carrier network – again, something that Sony has attempted to do in the past.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, shall we? No, not that Nougat is a terrible, terrible name and that the next version of Android was supposed to be named Nutella, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on licensing the name. What I’m talking about is the fact that Sony’s Xperia Beta program was always going to come back, despite being shuttered last month.
Android and security (or lack thereof) is like Windows and viruses – the two just go hand in hand. But 2016, particularly the past few months have been especially brutal:
Now to that list, we can add the QuadRooter vulnerability which affects 900 million Android devices. Brian Barrett writing for Wired:
As security research firm Check Point detailed this week, the vulnerability in question is actually a set of four issues, collectively called QuadRooter, and affects Qualcomm chipsets from manufacturers ranging from HTC to LG to OnePlus to Google, which contracts with other makers for its own Nexus devices. It’s serious; compromised devices would give bad actors root access, meaning they could collect any data stored on the phone, control the camera and microphone, and track its GPS location. It’s like giving someone the keys to your house, then holding the door open for them while they make off with the jewels.
Unlike previous security threats where Sony’s been mostly silent, the company has released a statement on the matter at hand.
Following the massive success of the Xperia X in the US which caused it to receive a price cut after just 10 days on store shelves, Sony is deploying a similar tactic with the the Xperia XA Ultra. While the Xperia X went from $549.99 to $499.99 in under two weeks, Sony this time around decided to wait the full two weeks before cutting their phablet’s price from $369.99 to $329.99.
Held in Berlin, the 2016 Sony IFA keynote is just a month away where Sony is expected to show their latest mobile products. Though Sony has yet to send out official press invites (which I won’t receive), they have confirmed that come September 1st, Kaz Hirai and co. will take stage. So what can we expect?
Predicting what Sony Mobile will do in the future is one of the toughest tasks you could ask an analyst, tech pundit, or fan to do. That’s because despite Mobile finally squeezing out a profit, something which they’ve never been able to do, it was mostly due to foreign currency exchange rates and cost cutting measures. Regardless of all this being part of the plan, Sony Mobile’s market share continues to shrink. For context, Apple and Samsung will sell in a month what will take Sony a year to sell.
All of this is a long winded way of saying that when it was revealed that Sony would defocus on India, USA, China, and Brazil, not too many fans were all that shocked. Upset? Absolutely, but shocked? Not really.
After all, while Sony is executing a specific business plan that’s guided them towards profitability, if not curbing the huge losses from the division, a product and go-to marketing strategy still seems to be extremely elusive. Plus, how can Sony ‘defocus’ on the US when they never really focused on it?
Now we have some official information from Sony that debunks some earlier info and sheds some light on where they plan on going forward.
Come this September, Sony will once again be taking the stage in Berlin to unveil their latest strategy and mobile products. In years before, IFA has been the launching ground for the SmartWatch 3 and flagship Xperia Z5. Will we see similar product announcements this year as well? Many are certainly hoping so.
As much as we all like to moan at the status of Sony’s mobile operations, the reality is that the company has been executing on a plan designed to bring the division to profitability. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai has made it no secret that any division of the company that’s not able to turn a profit could be and would be cut. Case in point: just yesterday, it was revealed that Sony would be selling their battery business which has forced the company to write down $600 million in just the past three years.
As for mobile, after years of reporting losses, the battered division was able to finally post a profit.
Brandon Dean from The Verge has written some interesting thoughts on Sony Mobile. Like him, I think Sony in some ways has always been ahead of the curve with their mobile devices. For example, Xperia users have always been treated to some of the best-in-class image sensors (though software has typically held them back) with a design that still holds true. Yes, for hardcore users, the aesthetics might be getting a bit tiring but I still find their design compelling – and truth be told, seeing how low their sales are, it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of the public has never actually seen or experienced Sony’s design.
The Z series had pretty impressive battery life, slim waterproof designs before the rest of the market, and high megapixel cameras that could take great shots (if you work at it a bit). I appreciated their design, being really one of the very few globally available OEM’s to fully embrace minimalism. The first Z was an unapologetic 2001 monolith. It looked cool simply sitting on a table, and felt like it was from some near future.
So here’s a wild rumor for you in regards to the next generation Xperia device, which Jenia Gracia from Mobile & Apps has dubbed the Xperia Z6.
One major feature that will be loaded in the upcoming unit will be its capability to serve as a controller to the VR headsets of the PlayStation gaming console
Besides not having heard anything about this myself, the rumor simply doesn’t make sense to me – here’s why.
Wth Android 6.0 Marshmallow released on the majority of intended devices, Sony Mobile is bringing an end to the Xperia Beta Program.
There will be no more planned beta firmware releases, the last firmware that rolled was build number 23.5.A.1.238. Sony confirmed that there will be new commercial firmware release that will hit all Xperia Z2/Z3 owners “in the coming weeks” – anyone on the beta program will be updated to this new firmware automatically.
It was only a matter of time before I would have to cover something about Pokemon Go and here it is. Dan Gooding writing for Ars Technica:
Researchers from antivirus provider Eset report finding at least three such apps in the Google-hosted marketplace. Of the three, the one titled “Pokemon Go Ultimate” posed the biggest threat because it deliberately locks the screen of devices immediately after being installed. In many cases, restarting an infected phone isn’t enough to unlock the screen. Infected phones can ultimately be unlocked either by removing the battery or by using the Android Device Manager.
But it gets better.
You’ve heard it time and time again, Android is one sweet tasting – but fragmented as hell – OS. Ina Fried writing for Recode:
That often means a lot more time and money spent testing and supporting Android than Apple’s iOS, but with Android making up the majority of smartphones out there, what’s a large developer to do?
Apparently the answer is to take drastic measures like cutting out nearly all Android handset makers.