On Call: An open letter to Sony Ericsson

Please, Sony Ericsson, stop using your proprietary ports and memory cards.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
3 min read

Dear Sony Ericsson,

Though we've known each other for some time, this is the first time that I've written. For the most part, our relationship has been a good one. Back when AT&T was still AT&T Wireless, the Sony Ericsson T68i was one of the very first phones I ever owned (it's so old that I can't even find the CNET review). At the time, I was the envy of my friends since I had a nifty new feature called Bluetooth. What's more, I was the very first person that I knew to have multimedia messaging.

Sony Ericsson T68 Sony Ericsson

Though I had to ditch the T68i by the time that I arrived at CNET almost exactly six years ago (happy anniversary to me!), I continued to use your phones periodically as my personal device. And in my official role at CNET, I've reviewed no fewer than 33 of your handsets. On the whole I've enjoyed what I've seen. You've given us brilliant displays, your Walkman and Cyber-shot phones can offer fantastic multimedia quality, and you regularly introduce conversation piece models like the Xperia X1.

But after reviewing T-Mobile's recent Sony Ericsson Equinox, I no longer can overlook one of my frequent complaints. And no, I'm not referring to your unfortunate tendency to over-design your keyboards and controls at the expense of usability. Instead, I'm talking about Sony's proprietary ports and memory cards.

Now I know that you've pledged to adopt the Micro-USB charger standard, but the rest of the cell phone world is rapidly leaving you behind. Even Samsung, a company that put a different charger port on almost every phone, has largely moved in that direction already. In comparison, you're beginning to look dated and frankly, a little stubborn. So please, drop that pesky proprietary port without further delay.

On the upside, I was pleased to hear last summer that you'll be dropping the Memory Stick Micro format in favor of microSD cards. With the exception of the X1, you've stuck firmly to the costly Memory Stick Micro cards until just recently (the Equinox requires them). I'm pleased, however, that newer models like the Yari, the Satio, the Aino, the Jalou, and the Xperia X10 all use microSD. Not only will that save your customers money, but also they'll be able to transfer data onto their phones from other devices.

The W995's lovely 3.5mm headset jack. Kent German/CNET

Lastly, I have to ask that you stop using your proprietary headset connection and adopt a standard 3.5mm jack. I know you're capable of doing this, but I need to see more effort. One of the best features on the W995 was its 3.5mm jack. I was very pleased that I could use my own headset while listening to tunes without having to fumble with the awkward adapter. Even better, I could use more than one peripheral at a time.

You already offer great phones, but these changes will make them even better. Plus, you'll be showing your customers that you want to offer them the most choice possible. That's a small price to pay for a lot of user goodwill.

Kent German

P.S. I'd also like to see more of your phones come to U.S. carriers--I fear that we'll never see the Google Android-powered X10--but I'll save that for another column.