Walkman phones won't save Sony Ericsson, says analyst

In the aftermath of a second quarter report that saw sales fall compared to last year, Sony Ericsson announced three new Walkman phones, on Tuesday.

In the aftermath of a second quarter that saw sales fall compared to last year, Sony Ericsson on Tuesday announced three new Walkman phones.

But Carolina Milanesi, research director at Gartner, isn't convinced more music phones are what's needed to change Sony Ericsson's fortunes.

"I think Sony Ericsson needs to revamp its portfolio. Imaging and music are now offered by everybody and on the application side GPS and browsing are getting hotter. It needs to make sure they have a rich offer there too if they want to remain competitive," said Milanesi, who also thinks the company needs to improve design and user interface.

Sony Ericsson thinks the criticism is unfair and says that, in fact, it already has a wide portfolio that isn't too reliant on the Walkman and Cyber-shot line, according to Nordic public-relations manager Gustaf Brusewitz.

"We have, for example, introduced the G700, G900 and K660, which are more Web-oriented," Brusewitz said.

It has also introduced the F305, a gaming phone, and the Windows Mobile-based Xperia X1.

Sony Ericsson also has high hopes for the new Walkman phones, the W302, W595 and W902.

The 10.5 mm-thick W302 features a 2-megapixel camera, an FM radio, a 512M-byte Memory Stick Micro card, and a metal casing.

The W595 comes with a 3.2-megapixel camera and a 2G-byte Memory Stick Micro card. It also features something Sony Ericsson calls Share jack, which makes it possible for someone else to listen at the same time using a separate pair of headphones.

The W902 has a 5-megapixel camera, video recording at 30 frames per second at QVGA (Quarter Video Graphics Array) resolution and an 8G-byte Memory Stick Micro card. Sony Ericsson also promises better sound than ever before.

Both the W595 and the W902 has support for HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access), the W302 has had to settle with EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) network support. All three will be released during the fourth quarter; no pricing has been announced by Sony Ericsson.

On July 18 Sony Ericsson reported it had sold 24.4 million phones during the second quarter, compared to 24.9 million phones during the second quarter last year. At the same time its nearest rival, LG, reported sales of 27.7 million phones, which means that LG has increased its lead over Sony Ericsson by more than 1 million phones compared to the first three months of 2008.

When asked what Sony Ericsson can learn from LG's success, Brusewitz had no comment.

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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