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Sony Ericsson banks on Android

2011-03-01 13:36

BEIJING - Sony Ericsson Corp has fought back from a period of unprofitability and is now looking to forge a unique position among Android phone manufacturers by capitalizing on the entertainment technologies of its parent Sony Corp, said the joint venture's president for China operations.

Sony Ericsson banks on Android

Magnus Ahlqvist,president of Sony Ericsson China 

In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Magnus Ahlqvist said the company has restored its margins and returned to profit, thanks to its adoption of Android, the operating system for mobile phones developed by Google Inc.

Now the company is aiming to become the global leader in the Android phone market.

"However, many handset makers can produce Android phones now, so Sony Ericsson needs to make its products more distinctive and introduce differentiation," Ahlqvist said.

Sony Ericsson, a 50-50 Japanese/Swedish venture, achieved profitability in four consecutive quarters last year after it registered losses of 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in 2009.

However, the company's 2010 fourth-quarter earnings fell well short of analysts' expectations, which led many to believe that the company should quickly improve its product portfolio to distinguish its goods from other Android phones on the market.

Sony Ericsson enjoys one major advantage over its competitors in its attempts to consolidate its business, according to Ahlqvist. Its parent, Sony, is one of the most cutting-edge operations in the fields of film, music, games and cameras, and that experience could be a boon to its offshoot venture.

During the Mobile World Congress, held last week in Barcelona, Sony Ericsson launched the hotly awaited Xperia Play, the first Android handset to bring Sony's PlayStation gaming facilities to the mobile world.

The company labeled the product as "truly revolutionary", and said that Xperia Play is an example of the products and services coming into the market that will provide leverage for Sony's entertainment assets.

"We are going to try and make use of all Sony-related synergies," Ahlqvist said.

In addition to integrating Sony's technologies into its Xperia smartphones, Sony Ericsson has established a more ambitious target - to become an indispensable tool in the homes of its customers.

Sony has just launched a television with Google that includes integrated Android software. The company believes that it is probable that customers will have access to the same user interface on their domestic TV screens, computers and telephones, provided that Sony Ericsson ensures that its handsets are perfectly integrated with Sony products, he said. "The connected home is at the heart of our strategy."

About 80 percent of Sony Ericsson's current plans focus on Android, mainly because of its wealth of integrated services and applications. Ahlqvist said Sony Ericsson is no longer working with the Symbian operating system developed by Nokia Corp, but is still looking for opportunities to launch mobile phones using Microsoft Corp's Windows platform.

"We've been the leaders with the Android system in many countries, a fact which provides a head start for future growth," said Ahlqvist.

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