Sony Ericsson Gets a Branded App Channel in Android Market

Sony Ericsson has created its own branded channel within Google’s Android Market to promote apps that work especially well with its phones. The handset maker’s move that comes at a time when Google is trying to balance the platform’s openness with potential fragmentation as partners like Verizon put force behind their own Android app stores.

With the new channel, the “My Apps” option in Google’s Android Market will get replaced with a link to a special list of apps that either Sony Ericsson has created or that developer partners have built to work seamlessly with the device manufacturer’s phones. The channel’s not available on all Sony Ericsson phones as it’s dependent on carrier approval.

Like other Android manufacturers, Sony Ericsson is looking for a way to stand out and not become commoditized alongside rivals like LG, Samsung and HTC. The company has been moving more of its technical leadership to Silicon Valley away from Sweden as iOS, made by Cupertino-based Apple, and Android, from Mountain View-based Google have emerged as the two major smartphone platforms for developers.

The company’s also launching the channel at a sensitive time when Verizon and Amazon’s app stores may begin to challenge Google’s official Market and potentially create confusion among consumers about where to go to get Android apps. It also creates headaches for developers, who now have to deal with yet another level of fragmentation on top of making their apps compatible with a myriad number of devices.

While Sony Ericsson is the first device maker to do a branded channel, carriers like Verizon have done this before, so it’s not an entirely new feature in the Android Market for Google’s partners.