Interview: Harold de Kort, Communications Manager Sony Ericsson
During a Dutch show called ‘TeleVisie’, a bunch of smartphone manufacturers showed off their newest products. We found ourselves lucky enough to be there, and we did some previews and interviews. This interview is the first we did, with Harold de Kort, communications manager at Sony Ericsson Netherlands. We talked for a few minutes, about the Xperia Play, the software and more. The full interview is available after the break, so what are you waiting for?
A lot of people are wondering whether the Xperia Play is a PSP with Android, or just a phone with a few gaming gimmicks. How does SE describe the Xperia Play?
I hope you’ll understand that the primary focus of the Xperia Play clearly isn’t communication. It’s more like a gaming device, extended with the possibilities Android offers, we hope that the advertising campaign will make this clear. To be exact, it’s a combination of both a phone and a gaming handheld.
The Xperia Play has extensively been leaked since August 2010. Engadget even handled a prototype back in January. How could this happen?
Of course there’s a thing called controlled leaking, some people will think we did the whole thing as an undercover advertising campaign, but I hope it’s clear that this truly wasn’t the case here. On the first hand, it got us an amazing amount of publicity, more than we could ever have generated ourselves. On the other hand, it does have consequences: All the leaks damaged the trust SE had in its employees. From now on, the PR departments get the information and press shots they need much later, a little too late if you ask me. Our company unfortunately isn’t that open anymore about its new projects to its employees.
Will there be something like a Xperia Play 2 or so? What does the future hold for mobile gaming?
We’re awaiting the reactions of the consumers about the Xperia Play before we start new projects. We want to know what the consumers like and want, in order to give them the best experience possible. What we are doing already, is handing out the Playstation Certified certificates in a reaction to Gingerbread. I’ll explain this later.
Why did SE decide to make the bootloader of the 2011 line-up unlockable?
We were looking for openess for our phones, partly because Android is supposed to be open.
What audience does SE target on with this action?
We’re targeting developers, trying to attract them to our phones. Of course it’s possible for consumers to unlock their bootloader as well, but it’s not specifically meant for them.
How does this influence things like warranty?
Well, of course we were facing some legal issues. The most important issue was of course the warranty. Eventually, we decided that unlocking the bootloader will void your warranty.
Well there be any restrictions on what people can do with their unlocked bootloader?
No, we don’t plan on putting restrictions on someone’s freedom.
About the hardware. Compared to the new line-up of other manufacturers , Sony Ericsson’s new phones score relatively low in benchmarks, due to the older processor and memory chips. Why are phones optimized for say, gaming, powered by a relatively old processor?
We’ve got a partnership with Quallcomm, which makes it hard for us to pick a processor from another brand. We’ve chosen to optimize the software for that particular processor, not for dual cores. We believe that there’s no noteworthy difference in performance with dual core phones, which makes the difference more theoretically than practically.
One more question about the hardware: A lot of people call the Xperia Play thick. Why has Sony Ericsson made it this size?
Of course we prefer a slim device as well, but sometimes it’s not possible to do this. The gaming controls on the Xperia Play need some extra space, unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about it.
During the press conference, there was a mention of a close cooperation with Google. How close was this cooperation?
The rumor goes that we’ve been asked to make the first Nexus phone, that would have been the X10. I can’t either confirm or deny this, but it’s an honor to be asked such a thing. It’s a message that Google trusts your company. We didn’t do this because we were new in the Android business and we didn’t want to give our first showpiece to Google.
Gingerbread has brought Google and Sony Ericsson closer to each other what regards gaming. But there wasn’t as much cooperation as we stated earlier. It just sounds very cool to say there was.
Why is Timescape still involved in the new phones? There were so many complaints about it, we hoped it’d be lost.
I think the complaints are mainly because people are using Timescape for the wrong purpose. Timescape is meant to give you an overview of all your social media, not particularly to interact with people. But we’ve learned from the past. We’ve applied it more as a layer, not as a deep integration. That was what caused the update delay of the Xperia X10, and we really don’t want such a mess anymore.
Why is there still no SE tablet? I’m looking forward to it…
There will be a Sony tablet in summer, but I guess that’s not the answer you’re looking for. The point is, the tablet business is a relatively new business, of which less is known. We’re not so sure we want to make the jump from phones to tablets. And unfortunately I can’t tell you anything about unannounced products.