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Sony Ericsson regrets not taking the iPhone too seriously, to focus on smartphones only

Posted: , by Victor H.

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Sony Ericsson regrets not taking the iPhone too seriously, to focus on smartphones only
Sony Ericsson might not be the most successful player in the industry, but its latest Android phones seem like a step in the right direction, but while some (cough, Nokia) are trying to play on both ends of the front - smartphones for the tech savvy industrial nations and feature phones en masse, SE begs to differ. Bert Nordberg, chief executive of the company, said the goal for the future includes smartphones and smartphones only as the company might shed its feature phone business altogether.

The CEO spoke also about the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Motorola in an extensive interview for the Wall Street Journal. In a quote-worthy segment, Nordberg pointed out that Sony Ericsson “should have taken the iPhone more seriously when it arrived in 2007.” 

At the same time, though, he defended his choice of Android and said he’s curiously looking at what’s happening with Windows Phone. Not to the point where he’d commit to a relatively new and unestablished platform though:

“At this point I wouldn’t feel comfortable investing in a platform that isn’t as good as the one that we currently use. Therefore we have remained with Android, but I am quite curious about Windows Phone.”

So while that’s not a direct blow at WP, it’s a revealing statement about the phone maker’s sentiment toward the platform. Nordberg clearly states that in Sony Ericsson’s view, Microsoft platform just “isn’t as good” as Android. 

The CEO also admitted that the company isn’t doing as good as it could have in the States and remains a “very tiny player” stateside.

Finally, when asked whether he would want his company to have stepped in Google’s shoes and acquired Motorola Mobility, Nordberg was realistic to point out that SE couldn’t afford it:

“Well sure, but before you go shopping you have to become rich.
And a deal between us would have been extremely complicated, with us being a private company with two large owners and them being a listed U.S. company.”

What do you make of SE’s future strategy? Is quitting feature phones the right way to go?

source: WSJ via TechCrunch

17 Comments
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posted on 03 Oct 2011, 07:05 3

1. protozeloz (Posts: 5374; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


They should have never stopped doing te P line of smartphones, but their devices are rather nice. Maybe they get their game more seriously

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 07:40 3

2. ivanprskalo (Posts: 110; Member since: 09 Dec 2010)


I only wish they take themselves more seriously...
And to try reach the top with high end smartphones. They can only do that in two ways:
1. Innovate! Make something that competition haven't...
2. Numbers! Make phones with specs just a bit more than competition. How hard that may be for a company with tradition like SE. Just now would be nice to produce (or plan) quad-core processor, 4,5" (and 4" one) qHD (or more), 1,5GB RAM, OLED with Bravia, furthermore improve camera (faster launch, neath UI), plus 2000mAh (or more) battery would be nice; and in the end Design! Make something breath-taking (from high quality materials off course!) Such beast would conquer the market.
If I was on SE place, I would make one flagship and at least two weaker versions int the way of specs (hardware would be the same)
Something that Graphic card and CPU makers doing for a long time with lot of success...
That would look this way:
1st of december 2011: release of SE QUAD XL (1,5 GHz quad core, 1.5GB ram and all other)
Then in the same body just with lowered specs SE QUAD XS (1 GHZ quad core, 1GB RAM.... lower price)
Then SE QUAD LE (with specs further lowered)
and so on and on...
I think that might be good strategy.
If it works to nVidia and ATI, I don't see reason why it wouldn't work for SE...

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 09:40 1

3. AlexanderT (unregistered)


Those are good points, but I honestly think that SE's designs are pretty unique and handsome, and set them apart from the competition. One thing that SE really has going for its handsets is that the build quality and durability are excellent, and that's stuff that isn't possible to convey via a simple online review.

On one hand it's a pity SE don't have a bigger market share, but on the other, it keeps them on their toes and they won't be tempted to sit on their arses and gain bad habits (like Nokia and Motorola).

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 09:50 2

4. snowgator (Posts: 3202; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


I am a Windows Phone supporter, but I actually agree with his statement as far as S.E. is concerned. If you are rebuilding a brand, taking a flyer on WP doesn't make sense. Android is way more mature and has a built in audience. Sony cannot afford to grow with Microsoft, they need immediate success. Android is by far the best option for them.

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 10:34

7. protozeloz (Posts: 5374; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


people complain about their devices not being superphones but the true is that they seek perfection on the things they make, to me they are more like apple in terms of having stable and feature full OS, they where not stupid to rush a dual core device that could cause them issues the Xperia arch and X10 on 2.3 run great, they need to promote themselves even more

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 10:03

5. ryq (unregistered)


SE abandoning the featured phone is the right decision. the profit margin is small and the competition especially from china is brutal to say the least. but soon all these chines phone maker will want to compete also in the smartphone area. but that's a different story.

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 10:05

6. lubba (Posts: 1310; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


Take on android and join the competition. Good luck. Look what happened to Motorola. Thought they could cash in on Android and win the game. Supposedly, smart investors put their money in differing portfolios. If one lose, the other may gain to balance. Right now SE is losing and there's nothing to back them up.

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 10:47 1

8. protozeloz (Posts: 5374; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


Motorola was loosing money way before android, actually Is was the droid that saved them from bankruptcy, now how they paid android with? little support outside US and slow updates on devices with the same hardware as the ones they sold as droid, and unlocked(Samsung and HTC updated those first) , closing boot loader to slowdown dev communities, different versions of blur and no proper promotion of No droid branded devices, yet they are given away the chance to make the xoom and not only shipped the device with lacking LTE or capable to use the card reader, but its incredible that the Europe wifi version is not up to date and the US wifi version is, plus you don't tell people the price of your device and you expect them to buy?

and even with all that they still projected a good year and a halt on the money loss they have had since the RAZR, then Google buys them.

Motorola failed because of their marketing team and marketing projection, and customer feedback and support, not for siding up with android only, even MS is probably making more money from android than WP7

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 11:16

9. snowgator (Posts: 3202; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Motorola was not profitable due to PAST debt, not present. Every sales chart I have seen has shown Moto increasing sales and profit since the switch to high end Android devices. It was a huge hole they were climbing out of. Android saved them from going belly up and made them a viable company for purchase. I really like their products. Vastly improved. Sony Ericsson doesn't appear to be in the same type of hole. They could have a solid turnaround with a solid plan.

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 11:58 1

10. vu2ikl (Posts: 11; Member since: 22 Sep 2011)


Quitting the feature phone is not a right strategy at least in developing countries. Yes, in the developed countries like in US it might do any good, but not in India. I mean look at the top 10 best selling phone for last couple of months in India, The top 5 mobiles are in cost bracket of 30 to 100 USD and then the androids follow. I think the best strategy would be make make 4 feature mobiles in the bracket of 30 to 150 USD. The least priced mobile should have normal 12key keypad, so it can be used for touch phobic people (e.g. old ppl. no pun intended). and from 150 USD you can have the android army or windows phone devices.

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 13:49 1

11. dara (unregistered)


well here's a loyal SE user, had 6 of them by now (now having xperia arc ), just one samsung and LG besides.
and as such I'm obviously biased but here, I'll try to put some arguments behind the following statement: I think SE is The phone brand, in terms of potential and it actually could, if played the right moves, became the top android maker.
why?

-they still have the name, recognition, style, and they have a strong history
-apart from samsung, SE is the only brand with complete hardware components r&d and production - Sony screens and camera modules, and Ericsson radios and processors( new dual core Nova Thor chips, to be incorporated in upcoming SE high end devices)
- strong focus on smartphones, with exclusive devotion to android
- Sony as a no.1 multimedia/entertainment brand
- relatively small, cleaned up and efficient company structure, instead of previous corporate mess that they were(illustrated by the fact that they had 5 profitable quarters in a row, despite steep decline in sales and uncompetitive software in their phones - think Satio, Vivaz and x10)
- their learned lessons from the past, proved by almost catarsic new software policy and example -setting devotion for updates
- creative, recognisable emphasis on style and design, truly different from corporative confection of other makers
- as of lately, quality hardware and well performing software, with very few bugs and problems

Now, if I could make decisions on their arriving products, this is what I would want:
- a strong cameraphone, branded xperia cyber shot - using the already existing 16mp module, xenon flash, sliding camera cover. Dimensions and price would be kept in order with 'just" 4 inch qHD screen, moderate internal memory, and a single core MSM8255T processor with 1gig of ram.
It's entirely possible to make a phone like that now, for a reasonable price.
- a new flagship "xperia ultimate", incorporating their new 4.5 inch 3D HD screen, dual core Nova Thor 8500 processor with LTE, shooting with 12mp exmor 2, running ICS.

Now that phone is in the works, I believe, due to be announced in november/december, and released in march.

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 15:41

12. snowgator (Posts: 3202; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Sorry Dara - meant to thumbs up to you. Solid post, great phone ideas. Here on Phone Arena, being biased is fine so long as you are straight up about it!

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 18:14

13. lubba (Posts: 1310; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


"A platform that isn't as good...". As a wp7 user, i beg to differ. Take the iphone seriously? Mr. Nerdborg, take your head out of your "A!" Your company is behind the competition. Iphone is the least of your worries sir. Go back to thw drawing bored and figure how your SE going to overcome the "Established" Android oems HTC and Samsung. Oh by the way wp7 accounts for 30% of HTC sales and it doesn't matter where.

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 18:57

14. dara (unregistered)


iphone is the thing of concern to every manufacturer that wants to run phone business at it's best ..and that doesn't include running of the mill with "new" black slab every week and putting your self in danger of choking up your own portfolio and flexibility..just ask Nokia.

SE is actually thinking big, and thinking smart..releasing a modest number of carefully thought out, well performing phones with style and character, covering and exploring every niche..
for example, it's xperia arc is actually a big success, it greatly out sold HTC sensation on some markets.

if comparing SE with HTC and samsung, you must take a look at their respective portfolios - both manufacturers have like 30+ different android models, while
SE has only 9 in stores I think.
Yet, in western europe, they are selling just about twice more droids than SE.

while samsung uses its brute force policy with almost zero creativity - because it can; HTC is still riding on the momentum of it's acclaimed reputation, so it too can release a new droid every week, without a fear of making a flop.
but it's a short sighted philosophy, which can turn damaging very easily. sensation's plague of problems are one indication of that, and the latest security scandal could be another.
now look at their upcoming Vigor flagship.. even if better than iPhone 5, it will be first heavily beaten by iPhone craze, and then forgotten by spring.

SE? thankfuly, they have took the other direction, and it's just the right one.
while the iPhone craze settles down, they will turn on the fanfare and
release a first true beast running the ICS.

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 21:32

17. lubba (Posts: 1310; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


Well said but i think that a company as SE to compete right off the bat against the iphone is a dream. Even though the other oems produce android phones like crazy, they do produce them with better technology. Sure they have some flaws (maybe) but are the consumers complaining? No. Just look all the Android users, they don't care about camera, UI, productivity, social integration, or anything that makes a smart phone "a smart phone." All they care about are specs and HTC and Samsung provides them with this love affair. These two guys are hitting big and its making Apple cringe with fear to the point Apple's suing like crazy! My point, can't get to the big boss without going through his bodyguards.

posted on 03 Oct 2011, 19:52

15. CellularNinja (Posts: 302; Member since: 27 Sep 2011)


Yes, it is smart. Feature phones are dated, barely anyone uses feature phones, and even if they do, will probably not renew a contract with feature phone, but instead upgrade to a smart phone.

posted on 04 Oct 2011, 04:20

18. XiphiasGladius (Posts: 801; Member since: 21 Aug 2011)


SE needs to improve their hardware like almost on par with some samsung high enders (GSII), their software is already solid and their designs is probably one of the best (if not the best). . .

If they could do that they might gain the customers interest in their products. . . but as of the moment Samsung's hardware is second to none. . .

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