Sony Ericsson, the joint venture between one of the world’s largest consumer electronics companies and one of the leaders in both mobile and fixed infrastructure equipment, will cease to exist in early 2012. Today they’ve announced that Sony has decided to give Ericsson 1.05 billion Euros so that Sony Ericsson, or whatever it’ll end up being called, will become a “wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony.” The Japanese hardware vendor will also receive a “broad intellectual property (IP) cross-licensing agreement” and “ownership of five essential patent families relating to wireless handset technology.” The rest of the press release reads like a set of sappy speeches told at bon voyage parties for corporate employees who retire, which we’re not going to bother sharing.
So what does this mean for us and the wireless industry as a whole? Well, Sony can finally enter the mobile arena with force and leverage their arguably more influential brand. Sony Ericsson decided that in 2012 they’re going to focus on smartphones, more specifically Android smartphones, so having a company like Sony backing Google’s ecosystem is an impressive achievement. You’ve got to remember that Sony makes some of the most advanced components on the market, from cameras to screens. This means that we’ll likely see Sony smartphones come with ridiculously high end specifications in much the same way that Samsung puts their top of the line components in their smartphones before selling them to competitors. Sony also owns quite a lot of content, both in terms of music and movies, so we’re bound to see them leverage that asset quite heavily as more and more people spend a greater portion of their media consumption time with “post PC” devices. Don’t forget the PlayStation brand as well … though that PlayStation phone did turn out to be a pile of shit now that we think about it.
Anyway, like all major changes in strategy, it’ll take time before we really see the effects of the announcement. Don’t expect to see Sony branded smartphones until late 2013 at the earliest.