Unfortunately for Sony Ericsson, it hasn’t quite managed to climb to the dizzying heights other smartphone makers have enjoyed since the boom began, though it does have a faithful following.
But does anyone really remember Ericsson?
It’s all a bit dated, agrees Toni Smith, managing director at The Viral Factory. “This actually presents Sony with a nice opportunity to re-launch a brand to mainstream audiences, even though the same products were intended under the Sony Ericcson name,” Smith begins.
It’s true: what could be simpler than a flagship Android Playstation Phone, by Sony? That Ericsson sufffix really does muddy the waters. “A brand refresh right now could be good for them,” Smith tells us. “Especially as the Ericsson name is out of date and irrelevant to younger audiences. This could be a great opportunity for the Sony brand to stand out and be cool again, with some well thought-out positioning and communication.”
Sony Ericsson’s public relations team in the UK, Brando World, always do a great job in putting on launch parties. But the Ericsson part arguably damages the brand.
Nick Sunderland, creative strategy director at branding agency Heavenly, thinks the change is long overdue. “If you’re being harsh, Sony Mobile should have existed two decades ago,” he says.
“For a company that makes laptops, cameras, MP3 players and gaming consoles not to be taking the mobile space seriously is foolish.”
Sunderland thinks buying out the Ericsson has the potential to be a “really powerful move for the brand,” especially off the back of the Google and Motorola deal. From a brand perspective, it “would signal Sony’s seriousness in this space,” Sunderland tells us.
Despite serious PR burps – like putting every single user’s data at risk with the PS3 security farce – Sony is well positioned to take advantage of mobile. It “still stands for premium and A-grade technology,” says Sunderland.
“Now it needs to deliver some true game changing innovation. Without even looking at the financials on the deal, it seems too big an opportunity for Sony to pass up on. If they don’t nail it now it may cost them far much more in the long term.”
Hannah Bouckley, editor at Recombu.com, also believes Sony’s hardware arm could be a good fit. “Commercially, Sony Computers already makes tablets and laptops,” Bouckley says, “so it makes sense to add phones to the roster – not least to consolidate resources, but especially to compete with Apple.”
And as Sony has its fingers in so many pies, it is well positioned: “Sony is one of the few companies that actually owns content, with games, music and movies, so if it came make all these areas work together, it has an advantage against its competitors.
“There has been quite a bit more synergy recently with Sony features creeping onto the phones, such as Qriocity for music downloads and the Exmor camera Engine in the Xperia Arc.
“The phone market is incredibly competitive and there’s no guarantee that the company will actually make money. In addition, although Sony Ericsson has had a really strong year in terms of products, the company is still behind HTC and Samsung in the Android smartphone stakes.”