After rumors that Sony and Microsoft are back together working on the next generation of Xperia smartphones that would run the latter’s Windows Phone operating system, a Sony European executive is now adding fuel to the fire. Sony Mobile’s Europe head Pierre Perron is now suggesting that the hardware-maker is exploring a multiple-OS strategy that could include Windows Phone alongside Android, a strategy that rivals like HTC and Samsung are already undertaking.
“[Working with Microsoft] is an interesting proposition for us in the PC environment, and we continue our engagement with them,” Perron told UK-based TechRadar in an interview. “We are exploring this as part of our discussion in mobile space too. One thing is using the platform [Windows Phone] itself, and another is ‘what can we deliver on top of it’?”
From the interview, it sounds like Sony may be figuring out how it could inject its own DNA into the Windows Phone platform. Traditionally, Microsoft has held a more Apple-like approach to Windows Phone by issuing guidelines for the hardware specs (processor, RAM, screen resolution, and other factors) while limiting the software customization to the OS itself.
Still, given the diversity of Sony’s ecosystem, the company could bring more innovations to the platform, including the Triluminos display that’s employed on the company’s Android-powered Xperia flagship models, better camera sensors and optics, and a sleek and elegant waterproof design.
A partnership with Microsoft for mobile wouldn’t be the first for Sony who built its Xperia smartphone empire on Windows Mobile before Android took off. However, it was speculated in the past that due to Microsoft’s difficulties in getting Windows Phone 7 out on time, Sony changed course and became an exclusive hardware-maker for Google’s ecosystem. Now, it looks like things may be changing and the electronics giant may be warming up to Microsoft.
“We enjoy very much a good collaboration with Google, we’ve been working with them for a long time and have a level of maturity with that discussion, that’s good,” Perron noted. “But at the same time, Google has a relationship with direct competitors.”
This may suggest that Microsoft and Sony may have some sort of arrangement if Sony was to make a return to Windows Phone. That wouldn’t be the first time that Microsoft had relaxed its licensing terms. In the past, when it courted Nokia to switch from Symbian to be the exclusive manufacturer of Windows Phone hardware, the Lumia smartphone-maker was granted access to Windows Phone code and a close collaboration between the two led to innovations like the 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 and advanced settings such as Nokia’s Glance Screen. Potentially, Sony could be given similar access no that Microsoft is in the midst of absorbing Nokia’s devices and services division through a pending acquisition.
Still, any talks about a Sony Xperia smartphone running Windows Phone appears to be in the early stages at the moment.
“Perron declined to give a specific date on when we might see a Windows Phone, stating that the discussions were tentative at the moment (and clearly have been for some time) , but given the steady rise in popularity for Microsoft’s OS, it seems that perhaps there may still be others looking to launch on Windows Phone too,” TechRadar reported.
The move could be beneficial to Sony as other rivals are looking to diversify their portfolio. Samsung, which is the leading Android manufacturer, is now exploring its options with Tizen and the first batch of Samsung’s Tizen devices is expected to debut this year.