Will the Walkman go Android?

Sony may be planning to use Google's Android operating system as a common platform for mobile products, such as music players and phones.

Donald Bell Senior Editor / How To
Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.
Donald Bell

Photo of the Sony X-Series Walkman.
The Sony X-Series Walkman is a solid competitor to the iPod Touch, but it was late to the game. Could Android help Sony get mobile products to market more quickly? Corinne Schulze/CBS Interactive

In an effort to streamline the development of their mobile products, Sony may adopt Google's Android OS for future versions of their Walkman audio players, mobile phones, and mobile Internet devices such as the Mylo. By using a shared platform between devices, Sony could be hoping to emulate the success Apple achieved with the iPhone and iPod Touch, and their common iPhone OS.

The move to Android may also help to hasten products to market, allowing Sony's developers to repurpose apps and interface designs between products. Sony's latest Walkman, the iPod Touch-rivaling X-Series, only recently began shipping, effectively allowing Apple a year-and-a-half lead.

As one of only a few mobile phone manufacturers who also produce portable media players (Samsung being another), Sony is in a unique position to enjoy the spoils of integrating its mobile products using a single platform with open standards. If they succeed, Sony may be one of the first to release an Android-based portable media player.

With the increasing sophistication of the iPod and its competitors, the Android OS may become an attractive option for manufacturers beyond Sony, as well. Companies such as Samsung, Archos, SanDisk, Philips, Creative, and Cowon, are all looking for an angle to compete against the iPod. Android may prove hard to resist as a shortcut toward an Internet-connected music platform with support for third-party applications.

(via The Open Road)