Sony Ericsson’s new inner sanctum

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Sony Ericsson’s brand spanking new, ultra-modern development centre in Lund, Sweden has become its global engine room, where ideas are formed and put into service as consumer electronics.

As it opens its doors to journalists for the first time since employees moved in a few months ago, it soon becomes apparent the manufacturer wants to appear chipper in a bleak economic climate which has eroded its profits drastically.

“We are close to a revolution here,” insists Sony Ericsson president Dick Komiyama (pictured).

“We are still in a growing stage in India and China and we have strong growth in the US, but we want to be in every country and every corner of the world.

“This industry is dynamic, it moves fast; we have enjoyed growth through our multimedia phones, but now we are seeing a new face of the economy.

“Some manufacturers are starting to feel the pinch and we realise this is the reality. All we need is to quickly reposition ourselves.”

Although its performance this year has slipped badly – senior executives admitting to having over-egged the pudding with too many devices – the message from Lund was Sony Ericsson is primed to take advantage of fast-growing emerging markets to offset the slowdown in the West.

Global brand tie-ups with the likes of the Women’s Tennis Association – and in particular one of its leading ladies, Maria Sharapova – are a sign of the manufacturer’s intent to appeal to a global mass market.

It has also inked a deal with football’s governing body FIFA to sponsor the 2010 World Cup. The appeal of such a marketing deal, of sponsoring the leading tournament for such a global sport, is clear.

Head of marketing Lennard Hoornik says: “The deal will see us as the official handset of the World Cup and other tournaments, such as the Confederations Cup.

“What’s key is we have unique content and we would like to use this to change customer behaviour. We have access to content from all the past tournaments and this will help our consumers enjoy it even more. It’s going to make us relevant in every corner of the world.”

With such a high profile deal, and a compelling offering for customers, the company believes it can reach areas such as South America where it has recently increased its market share.

While looking to expand the business, Sony Ericsson is also looking at how it can improve its products and face off challenges from the likes of Apple and BlackBerry, with the latter now moving into more consumer-focused devices.

Full article in Mobile News issue 424 (October 6, 2008).

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