Sony Anticipates Split with Ericsson in Mobile to Happen Mid-2012
It’s no secret that Sony Ericsson is seeking a divorce that will result in Sony acquiring Ericsson’s share of the joint venture that produces mobile phones, and now Sony executives say that the split will happen by mid-year 2012 in an interview with an Indian newspaper.
Under the Sony brand, the mobile phone-maker will divest itself from the feature phone market and instead focus solely on smartphones, most likely on smartphones running on the Android platform. Sony Ericsson has in the past produced smartphones running on Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Android, with Android now occupying the XPERIA product line.
Sony will likely leverage its other assets to help market and promote Sony-branded phones once the mobile division moves back in-house. The devices will likely be Playstation-certified. Other assets that Sony could leverage include the company’s mobile imaging department for better camera sensors and optics on the smartphones’ cameras, displays through Sony’s TV divisions, e-books by way of the Sony Reader platform, music through various Sony brands including the famed Walkman moniker, and others.
Like larger rival Nokia, Sony Ericsson’s problem is that it has not been able to successfully work with carriers in the past to deliver subsidized handsets to consumers. As many of Sony Ericsson’s handsets in the U.S. sell for full retail price, few customers are willing to make the jump to an XPERIA-branded phone as a result.
The intention to split was announced earlier this fall, but the two companies are still awaiting regulatory approval for Sony to take over Ericsson’s share, which is valued at $1.7 billion. Whether a Sony-branded mobile division will be more agile and responsive to the rapidly changing mobile market than the joint venture is still yet to be seen.