Sony Ericsson is going to be releasing two new feature phones in the new feature which utilize their custom UI from the Xperia Mini. The phones, the rumored to be called “txt pro” and “Mix Walkman,” both feature touch screens, and the txt pro, a slide out QWERTY keyboard. The two feature phones are set to be released sometime in the coming months as part of a competition on SE’s Facebook page which will feature the winners reviewing the phones.
While neither phone is going to be running Android, it is difficult to tell given the similarity of their UIs to Sony Ericsson’s other midrange offerings. This is hardly the first time we’ve seen manufacturers porting their Android UI skins to non Android platforms. At CES this year we saw HTC announce it’s Brew based Freestyle that dances on the line between feature and smartphone, but still offered users the HTC “Sense experience.”
While I’m much more of a stock Android guy, this could become an increasing trend as OEMs seek ways to make users want a Sony Ericsson phone, or an HTC phone rather than simply an Android phone. Android may be the majority now for smartphone’s in the U.S., but Apple still has more than twice the market share of the any one Android hardware manufacturer. While this is very similar to the situation in the PC market, we’re seeing smartphone manufacturers resist being seen as just a means to the ends of Android, much more heavily than you see in the personal computer space. Interesting stuff, but nothing wrong with a little free market competition (as long as you leave my bootloader unlockable that is… )[via Xperia blog]