This past week there was a little-noticed by very interesting development in the Android Open Source Project. Google's Jean-Baptiste Queru, who has long been the main source of AOSP developments from the company, kicked off "An experiment" with the Sony Xperia S. Google is looking to work with the community to directly support the Xperia S within the AOSP in a manner that's similar to how Google works with Nexus-class devices. Although the project is in very early days, if it's successful we could see more and expanded support for non-Nexus devices come directly from Google and the rest of the Android Open Source participants.
As for why the Xperia S was chosen to kick off this experiment, Queru actually puts it pretty succinctly himself: "it's a powerful current GSM device, with an unlockable bootloader, from a manufacturer that has always been very friendly to AOSP." Those last two elements are especially important. Locked bootloaders has been a point of contention for Android in the past few years, but we've seen some positive movement in that regard. More to the point, Sony has been amongst the most open and progressive of any Andoid OEM when it comes to working with the community, having released preview versions of its software upgrades before the actual release. It appears that the AOSP is rewarding that openness.
As Neowin notes, development for the experiment is in very early days, but interestingly it's possible that work done by the CyanogenMod team could also play a part here. For now, it's all a "bleeding edge" experiment, but we'll be watching to see if it turns into something more.