Dan Frommer has a post up looking at Sony's decision to buy out its phone partner, Ericsson, and go forward on its own. Like Dan, I'm not confident in Sony's ability to succeed based on its past track record. But I want to take issue with one part of Dan's argument.
Ignoring how late this move is, here’s the bigger problem: Today’s smartphone industry is less about hardware and more about software, platforms, and services. But I can’t think of a single time that Sony has impressed me with anything software-related.
-SplatF, October 27, 2011
The problem with this is that there's still plenty of room for phone makers to differentiate themselves on the hardware side of the equation. Whether it's case materials and shapes, cameras, weight, thinness, speed, battery life, screen -- there are plenty of features that are entirely or primarily hardware based. Just look at reviews of the new iPhone 4S which rave about the improved camera, improved antenna, improved battery life, faster (on AT&T) broadband speeds, faster CPU (especially for graphics) and so on.
Great hardware designs differentiate great Android phones from mediocre ones. Surely Dan doesn't think the Samsung Galaxy S II is indistinguishable from the Pantech Breakout even though both have similar software?