Sony Ericsson’s Xperia Showcases Another Deep Facebook Integration

While Facebook has been busy denying the existence of any single “Facebook phone” and instead pointing out that there are many such devices, Sony Ericsson is coming to market with a line of phones this spring that ties the social network to their calendaring, music and photo features.

Sony Ericsson’s Xperia line is the latest in a series of so-called “deeply integrated” mobile devices that put Facebook functionality at their core instead of in third-party, standalone apps.

The Xperia phones, of which there are five, sync Facebook events to the user’s calendar and can push notifications about birthdays or upcoming events. The phone’s gallery also automatically contains a user’s Facebook photos and all of the pictures they’re tagged in. There are also social discovery features around music — when a user listens to a track, they can click “like” on the song to post an update to their wall. A widget also shows videos and music that friends have recommended on services like YouTube and Spotify.

The Xperia line is not Sony Ericsson’s first Facebook integration. The handset maker has been actively working with the company since 2008, when they built special Facebook implementations into their Windows Mobile devices. They also developed their own Facebook travel app.

Martin Essl, who handles strategic software partner management, says that the company’s approach to building Facebook integration is more subtle than that of other competitors. Unlike HTC, which unveiled two phones studded with special Facebook buttons in February at Mobile World Congress, Essl said the Sony Ericsson is shying away from aggressive branding.

“We don’t necessarily want to do a lot of Facebook branding or put it on top of the phone or UI. We don’t want to create a niche of Facebook phones,” Essl said. “The social graph should just help power the user experience and we want to deploy this across many of our products.”

As for the possibility of using Facebook in a more gaming-oriented way like on the Xperia Play, the PlayStation certified Android phone, Essl was tight-lipped.

“There’s nothing I can talk about,” he said. “If you look at what we’ve done today around the photo gallery and music, there are lots of other interesting things that users could share with their friends on their phones.”