Update: We knew it was too good to be true, and Sony Ericsson has released an official statement on the matter. Let's just say that Xperia devices may not be seeing ICS after all.
It seems Sony-Ericsson's PR arm has found its way straight to the heart of Android fanboys: by promising major OS updates. There really is no better feeling for an Android phone owner than knowing that, at some point, their phone will be getting the bump to the latest version of the Android operating system - and not left to die on the streets of software obsolescence.
Owners of SE's newest line of XPERIA smartphones (the arc, the neo, and the Play) will, then, be pleased to know the following information: Ice Cream Sandwich will be coming to your phone, and that's straight from Sony-Ericsson according to somobile. It's worth noting that somobile is a UK site, meaning the representative who fed them this info likely assumed they were concerned with the European editions of the aforementioned devices. Still, it seems a safe bet that this promise will also apply to their American siblings.
But we have our doubts on that latter point. When Sony finally upgraded some of its fast-aging X10 smartphones to Gingerbread at the end of July, the company won significant praise from the community for making good on that promise, and within the originally estimated timetable. Unfortunately, that was mere months after the X10 received an update from Android 1.6 (yes, you read that correctly) back in May. AT&T users of the X10? They never got Gingerbread - not through any legitimate channel, at least.
However, all of Sony's 2011 XPERIA smartphone releases have been sporting Android 2.3, so it's clear Sony is trying to change the somewhat deserved public perception that its phones have been consistently behind the curve, at least in terms of software.
So, what's our take on all this? If I had a Verizon XPERIA Play, or the upcoming AT&T version, I wouldn't hold my breath on an Ice Cream Sandwich update any time soon, if ever. As for the XPERIA neo and arc? While the arc is sold in the US, it's probably vying for an award as the most obscure Android smartphone released in 2011, and all 7 owners of the phone can probably look forward to an eventual ICS OTA.
When? Who knows. Google has suggested Ice Cream Sandwich is coming in October or November, so we'd expect carrier-branded handset updates to follow in 6 months or more, as has traditionally been the case. But with the Android Alliance now established (SE is a member), the wait time could be diminished.