Vodafone Drops Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X2

Mobility

Vodafone has abandoned plans to stock Sony Ericsson’s Windows Mobile-based Xperia X2 – while Orange has dropped Nokia’s N97 Mini

Mobile operator Vodafone has abandoned plans to sell Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X2 handset. A Sony Ericsson spokeswoman told eWEEK Europe that the X2 handset “no longer fits within [Vodafone’s] planned portfolio”, adding that “While the handset is available in other markets it will not be in the UK.”

Vodafone originally planned to stock the Xperia X2, which runs Windows Mobile 6.5, from the end of October 2009. However, the release date was delayed until after Christmas. The operator blamed the delay on “a series of technical issues,” while Sony Ericsson said the delivery date had slipped “due to extended testing”.

Vodafone’s decision not to stock the X2 handset is bad news for Sony Ericsson, whose Satio smartphone was also dropped by both Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U in November. At the time Vodafone told eWEEK Europe that it had seen a degree of Satio returns from its customers, “but not enough for us to justify pulling the device”.

It has been suggested that the unpopularity of Xperia X2 could be down to Sony Ericsson’s decision to run Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system, which has struggled to compete against well-established competitors such as Palm and Apple. In September Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that his company had “screwed up” on Windows Mobile, after seeing its mobile OS market share decline to around 9 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

This analysis is backed up by the success of Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X10 model, based on Google’s Android operating system. The handset, which launched in November, was praised by Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner’s mobile device team, who said “I have seen the device and think that Sony Ericsson is finally moving in right direction. The form factor looks very good and the screen is wonderful. But the main thing is Android platform, and Sony Ericsson have put their own user interface on top of Android.”

Meanwhile, Orange has pulled the Nokia N97 Mini due to problems with the phone and a high rate of returns. The operator said in a statement that it would “remain committed to supporting the device for existing customers and look forward to working with Nokia in the future.”

eWEEK Europe reviewed the original N97 model in 2009 and found a lot to like, but the large number of functions meant that it took a while to get used to. Orange refused to stock the device, as it failed to meet quality testing, but agreed to take on the N97 Mini instead. However, since its launch in December, returns have reached 20 percent, according to Mobile News.

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