Sony Ericsson's current goal is to become the global number one handset provider on the Android platform. That comes straight from the mouth of CEO Bert Nordberg. There's a good reason for this dedication on Ericsson's behalf. The company went years with little-to-no profit until Android came along.
Now Ericsson has been profitable for the last three quarters, and the company gives the lion's share of the credit to the launch of their Android Xperia smartphones. The Xperia X10 hit a little late, but it managed to pack every key feature for a 2010 high-end smartphone. The Evo, Droid Incredible and Galaxy S are all broadly similar. 4"-ish displays, 1 GHz processor, a nice camera and HD video playing.
Now the ANZU has been spotted. This device is believed to be the X10's sequel, and it gives us a good idea for what Ericsson's vision of the future is.
HDMI-out is becoming increasingly popular on high-end Android devices, and so we see it in the ANZU. The Evo's 4.3" display was a big hit, so Ericsson has jumped on to that bandwagon as well. Android 2.3 is the likely launch OS, and the processor will either end up being 1.2 GHz or a dual-core SoC like the Tegra 2.
The ANZU is shaping up to be a neat device, but it isn't innovative at all. Basically, this is the result of Sony Ericsson taking the absolute safest bet they can. The ANZU will sell moderately well without upsetting any industry records. Just like the X10.
This may seem a little cowardly, but you have to take into account the fact that Ericsson is about to take a major risk with their PlayStation Phone. By launching with a sliding gamepad, the PSPhone shuffles itself cleanly into the "gamer" niche. This may benefit them by drawing in hordes of eager players. It could also backfire. The last thing most customers want to do is sign a 2-year contract for a mere toy.
If the PSPhone doesn't work, the ANZU will provide Ericsson with a successful device to act as a cushion. And if the PSPhone proves to be a hit? Maybe we'll see a little more innovation start to bubble up from Sony's direction.