By Chris Velazco
Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) have made no secret of their impending split-up, but at the time of the announcement, the two didn’t have much to say about when the companies would officially go their separate ways.
That is, of course, until now: an executive source from within Sony told the Times of India that the mobile phone company will begin to fly solely under Sony’s banner by the middle of 2012.
The joint venture, which celebrated it’s 10th anniversary this past October, made waves earlier in the decade thanks to their scores of multimedia-friendly devices and successes in the burgeoning smartphone market. To say that their position has changed in recent years is putting it lightly — Sony-Ericsson is now the sixth-largest handset manufacturer in the world, and they’re preparing to put all of their eggs in a single proverbial basket.
Now, as the company has stated in their Q3 financials, it’s going to be all Android smartphones all the time. Killing off their feature phone portfolio going forward is a bold move, considering that companies like Nokia successfully milk developing markets while bolstering their smartphone lineup. Still, Sony Ericsson EVP Kristian Tear has high hopes for their Android-only push. He says that the company’s target is to become the number one Android player in the smartphone segment — a lofty goal, but will Sony actually make able to make good on their word?
Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) currently occupies the seat that Sony wants to claim for themselves; the Korean company became the biggest smartphone vendor in the world in Q3 2011 for shipping 24 million smartphones. Sony Ericsson, on the other hand, shipped a relatively paltry 9.5 million units in total, and CEO/President Bert Nordberg stated that the company shipped 22 million Xperia smartphones through the end of October 2011. That’s right — Samsung shipped more smartphones in one quarter than Sony Ericsson’s flagship Xperia line has since it was released. Talk about David taking on Goliath.
Of course, having the full backing of Sony’s consumer electronics empire could help even the playing field. Once the buyout transaction is approved, one of the first things Sony’s mobile division will do is refocus on their advertising and marketing campaigns in an attempt to harness the power of the Sony brand. It’s a step in the right direction, but Tear feels that’s just the beginning:
“Sony is the world’s biggest entertainment company. We were earlier a 50-50 JV, but now that we are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Corp, we expect to gain from its assets on the content, technology and brand side.”