Sony Ericsson has had a very bad year so far and is likely to have to raise more than $135m by next March, most likely from its parent company
It has already bucked the handset industry trend – in a negative way – by being over-focused on the lowest growth segment, the midrange, and now it looks set to throw away its one shining asset, its Sony brands.
With the latest Walkman music player, the X-Series, attracting strong reviews and restoring some of the luster to Sony’s brand, the handset JV is reported to be preparing to drop Walkman and Cybershot branding from cellphones in developed markets such as the UK and many other western European territories.
Instead, it will focus all its efforts on the unified entertainment offering it unveiled in February at Mobile World Congress. The first handset, idou, is expected to launch this month, tightly integrated with music, video and gaming services under the Entertainment Unlimited umbrella.
So far, so in tune with the move towards integration of device and services, both in branding and product terms. But as Nokia knows, this is a forward-looking strategy that will be slow-burning outside very high end-user bases – and Nokia would kill for some brands as powerful as Walkman and Cybershot to fall back on in the mid-market.