Hong Kong: Sony Corp sees Sony Ericsson as an integral part of its product lineup, as consumers look for more features, such as games, email and video, packed in their mobile devices, a top executive said.
“The Sony Ericsson management team understands how important it is to be a part of this Sony strategy,” Kazuo Hirai, Sony’s executive deputy president, who is tasked with integrating Sony’s consumer devices, told the AsiaD All Things Digital event in Hong Kong on Friday.
In October, a source told the news agency that Sony was discussing a buyout of its 50:50 mobile phone venture with Ericsson, which would help it recoup ground in the battle against Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.
College students using smartphones. Photo: Bloomberg
The buyout would boost Sony’s overall offering, which includes content, gaming devices, consumer electronics and even tablet computers, but is still missing its own smartphones.
Hirai declined comment on the buyout talk. “The most important thing is that we are able to really work a lot closer with the folks at Sony Ericsson. And that’s more important,” Hirai told the delegates.
For Ericsson, a sale would insulate its profit and loss account from the volatility Sony Ericsson has brought and allow it to focus resources on its loss-making chip venture ST-Ericsson.
A Reuters poll of analysts put the price of Ericsson’s 50% stake in Sony Ericsson at around $1.5 billion.
Sony has been hampered by a disjointed strategy, with tablets, game consoles, cameras and other electronics products coming under it, while Sony Ericsson made mobile phones and smartphones.
But times have changed, Hirai said. “Now, because it’s an integrated user experience between a cellphone, smartphone, TV, pads, whatever it is, they (Ericsson) again need to be more integrated into the discussions,” he said.
Known for its Bravia LCD TVs, Vaio laptops and PlayStation game consoles, Sony has been losing out in the smartphones and tablet PCs race.
In the mobile phones and smartphones sector, Sony Ericsson now ranks behind companies, such as Nokia Oyj, Samsung, LG Electronics Inc, and ZTE Corp, controlling less than 5% market share, industry data showed.
During the conference, Hirai also said Sony planned to expand PlayStation games on the Android platform.
“This is not a case where we want to keep it in the Sony family. We are in discussions with non-Sony makers. We’ll make the announcements as the time comes to go public,” he said.