Android 7.0 Nougat has been the most aggressive release Sony has done to date. In just the past week we’ve seen the latest OS build arrive for Xperia X Performance and Xperia XZ with more phones to come in the near future. According to Sony, Nougat will be made available to the
Xperia Z3+, Xperia Z4 Tablet, Xperia Z5, Xperia Z5 Compact, Xperia Z5 Premium, Xperia X, Xperia XA, Xperia XA Ultra and Xperia X Compact.
All of this then begs, what exactly does the new OS bring with it?
A follow up and addition to yesterday’s story about Android 7.0 Nougat arriving on the Xperia X Performance – Sony is now rolling out the latest build for the flagship Xperia XZ as well. Specifically, the update is available for the Xperia XZ (F8331) and XZ Dual (F8332) with build number 39.2.A.0.327 attached to it. It should go without saying that all updates for Sony are a phased rollout so don’t be surprised if it’s not showing up quite yet for your phone.
Just a quick heads up for Xperia X Performance owners – Sony is now rolling out Android 7.0 Nougat. As always, the gang at XperiaBlog have a nice little breakdown of it.
Firmware build number 39.2.A.0.327 is currently rolling to the Xperia X Performance (F8131) and X Performance Dual (F8132). The update is currently only rolling to select regions
The much-talked-about (by yours truly and curiously nobody else in the tech racket) Sony Xperia Ear has now launched globally. From Sony:
Consider yourself reminded that Xperia Ear – Sony Mobile’s intelligent personal assistant – is going to be landing in stores across the world from this week.
First unveiled back at MWC in February, Xperia Ear is a whole new way to get the info you need, when you need it, all via an oh-so-small and surprisingly comfortable earpiece.
Not only does it handle the usual phone functions using voice control (make and receive calls, listen to and compose text messages), Xperia Ear comes into its own as a nifty personal assistant. It can deliver a heads-up on your schedule, give you directions, inform you of the weather and plenty more.
One problem I have with Xperia Ear has been the lack of information surrounding the product. It’s as if Sony isn’t even acknowledging it, which is quite different from when Apple launches AirPods, and that’s unfortunate. First, this leaves those interested in a state of flux as they’re unsure what exactly they’re getting themselves into – and second, if this is ushering in a new era of technology where we begin to inject AI into devices that we wear, shouldn’t Sony be banging on every drum they can to bring attention to it?
It’s that time of the year again, folks. With the build up to Black Friday, many stores and sites throughout the world are putting promotions in place to draw you into them in hopes of you ultimately spending more. Alas, Sony likely won’t be developing a SmartWatch 4 so if you want to see what the hype (or lack thereof) around Android Wear is, or you simply have an affinity/need like I do for a smart watch, might I suggest the Sony SmartWatch 3 for £69.99?
I’ve written many times about how HTC is the bellwether for Sony and other Android OEMs that aren’t Samsung or from China. Now, according to the latest rumors as pointed out by Digital Trends, HTC could be making an exit from the smartphone business in 2017.
HTC’s mobile business has been struggling for some time, despite the fact that we are big fans of its most recent flagship device. That struggle may soon come to an end, though, as there are rumors swirling that it will leave the smartphone business entirely as soon as spring 2017.
Like they did for the UK and Japan, Sony Mobile is bringing the Deep Pink color to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Sony has already seen some great success in Taiwan with the Xperia XZ where pre-orders sold out in 45 minutes so it’s no surprise to see them get it by month’s end. Following its release there, Sony will then bring the Deep Pink variant to Hong Kong in December. Though yet to be announced, don’t be surprised to hear of additional countries getting the bold color in early 2017.
Coinciding with the November 2016 Google security patches, Sony Mobile is pushing out two updates of its own that cover the Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact. It’s unclear if the updates bring with them any additional tweaks to the system but at first glance, it appears to be just the security patches from Google.
One thing that comes up regularly in the comments section is the cry for Sony to end its reliance on Android and build an OS of their own. Wouldn’t it be great to see Sony run with PlayStation as the core of their systems, seeing how much success they’ve been having with it, or start from the ground up and control their own destiny while becoming less reliant on Google? In theory, it all sounds great but in reality, it’s near impossible to achieve.
For starters, not even Microsoft has been able to expand beyond Windows on desktop and they were in the mobile category long before Apple and Google. Yet with a lead and billions of dollars in the war chest, Windows Mobile continues to shrink and hovers around 1% marketshare. Why is that? One word: developers.
Sony’s Concept for Android is an initiative that dates back to a few years now which allows owners of select Xperia devices get a taste for the latest software that will be coming. This is a way for those eager to push their phone and capabilities to get their hands on the latest and it also provides Sony with a lot of valuable information on what’s working and what’s not. In short, it’s a fancy word for beta.
James Trew from Engadget was able to get some hands on time with the Xperia Agent, Sony’s other competitor to devices like the Amazon Echo and now Google Home. For those playing at home, Sony plans to conquer your home with either the Xperia Agent, a robotic looking device, and the Xperia Projector. While both units will utilize the same AI/virtual assistant that lives inside the Xperia Ear, the two do differ in some ways with the former offering an LCD screen and camera and the latter being able to project information on the wall, turning any empty space into a touch-based surface. James’s piece from two months back is titled
Sony sold me on Xperia Agent in one cup of coffee
and it’s hard to fault him for that. As a coffee fanatic, I’d love nothing more than to get up in the morning and say “hey Siri, brew me an espresso roast” and my Verismo machine fires up a cup of coffee. James continues with:
In various pieces throughout the past week, I’ve written about how Sony Mobile’s next two quarters, and how well Xperia XZ is received by consumers during that period, will turn out to be a pivotal moment for the future of Sony’s mobile efforts. Even if sales results are less than stellar, Xperia phones won’t come to a halt overnight as is evident by the above two models. In fact I’d be shocked if Sony wasn’t deep in R&D of phones that we’ll see in fall 2017 but before their arrival, we’ll get the G3112 and G3121.
Despite many players in the Android ecosystem, the only one of them that’s been able to turn a profit on a regular basis has been Samsung. Even the once darling HTC has been hammered hard in the past two to three years and everybody else like LG, Motorola, and whomever else you’d like to place on that list is doing even worse. Sony for it’s part was smart and transitioned their division to do lower volumes at higher ASP which has allowed them to remain profitable, though in just the tens of millions, which isn’t a lot.
Earlier in the week, Sony reported their Q2 FY16 earnings report and per usual, their mobile division was a mixed bag. On one hand, they’re no longer losing hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter and yet on the other hand, smartphone shipments are down significantly. Part of the dramatic decline in sales is actually by design, as under Kaz Hirai, Sony smartly recognized that doing volume for the sake of volume while losing money hand over fist was a pointless strategy.
Along with their earnings report, Sony also cut 2016 shipment forecasts for a third time now, believing they’ll only sell 17 million units. As you can see from the chart above, they have a long way to go before they hit that number and I’m not entirely convinced they’ll be able to ship 7 million phones during the next quarter. But going back to the initial point, yes Sony Mobile is making a profit but it’s not much. In fact, for the quarter, mobile managed to bring in approximately $48 million in profits, which, in the grand scheme of a billion-dollar company, is next to nothing.
One of the key factors in Sony’s Q2 2016 revenue taking an 86% dip is lower than expected Xperia smartphone sales. Having already cut smartphone sales forecasts twice in 2016, Sony is once again lowering their guidance by 11% for the year and expect to only ship 17 million units. Looking at the numbers, things don’t look all that rosy for Sony’s mobile ambitions though sales were up by 400k compared to the previous quarter. However, looking at the numbers against the same in 2015, which was never spectacular to begin with, it’s hard to walk away with a bright view on the division.