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Japan Calling

October 27, 2011

Stepping aside from the boring OWS and political stand-offs, here’s the end of a stand-off to which nobody was paying attention.  Courtesy of  The Register:

Sony Ericsson was a jointly owned company that has been making phones for the last decade or so, based on Sony’s experience of consumer electronics and Ericsson’s knowledge (and patents) in radio technologies. That made a lot of sense 10 years ago, when radio was arcane, but these days the radio component of a smartphone is just a drop-in module along with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and all the other bits which make up a smartphone.

And it is smartphones that Sony wants to concentrate on. Having demonstrated that its Android handsets can bring in greater revenue from a smaller market share, the company has already committed to making its whole portfolio smart over the next 12 months.

Sony Ericsson was always a marriage of convenience, and frustration: the company lobbied ceaselessly for access to the Sony brands, PlayStation in particular, with little success until very recently.

I’ll admit to having a Sony-Ericsson phone (and I think it’s nearly seven years old) that I absolutely adore.  The combination of a decent radio set from Ericsson and Sony’s expertise in optics and CCD for the camera and user interface for everything else made for a killer package.  I occasionally go back to look at other S-E phones for upgrade, and every time I love the phone and hate the extra money for the data plan. (Yes, I’m cheap.)

But I always did see this as a marriage of convenience, and now they’ve proved it by Sony handing Ericsson cash (which it needs), and taking the business fully Sony (which it probably needs).  One point that’s usually lost on people, though.  Sony is a loose conglomeration of a bunch of different companies that act like they’re one.  Getting actual Playstation content for a TV or a phone is a near miracle.  Getting access to the music or movie content is impossible.  Sony survives on its massive patent portfolio, a set of serious engineering chops, and a reluctance to put out anything that might diminish the brand.

I actually anticipate their phones getting even better now that they have the full weight of Sony bearing down on them.  That said, I don’t expect a ton of market share, since Sony is very content to keep margins up and “skim the cream” (as they’ve often told me and many others).  In the least, they’ll sell me a new phone… as soon as I can get past that data plan cost.

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