Vautier fronts up to SE task

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In his first interview with the UK trade press, Sony Ericsson UK and Ireland managing director Nathan Vautier meets questions head-on and acknowledges recent issues with build quality. “We are very aware of this,” he tells Mobile News.

“We need to step up and understand where these quality issues are coming from. We have gone from having one of the best performing quality brands to having issues on certain products.

“We are addressing this radically, starting from within the core of our manufacturing business, in changing how we conduct our research and development, where we source our components and how we test our products.

“We will also manage this locally through post sales teams. In the short term, we will be looking at ways to support this further through more accessible software downloads.”

Vautier, previously UK sales director, replaced John Harber as UK managing director in November.

On the eve of this year’s Mobile World Congress, his employer splashed a pipeline 12-megapixel cameraphone with the working title ‘Idou’, the first (announced) handset to be based upon the forthcoming Symbian Foundation open-source platform.

The new model was notable also for the integration of its successful Walkman and Cybershot brands into a single ‘entertainment unlimited’ concept brand for mobile, for a new phase of all-round technical ability.

At the Idou press conference in Barcelona, Sony Ericsson head of global marketing and vice president Lennard Hoornik appeared to preempt questions about a much-rumoured divorce of Sony Ericsson parent companies in light of startling losses in 2008.

“Our parent companies strongly endorse our entertainment proposition,” he said.

He went on to confirm Sony Ericsson was undergoing a “reorganisation” (which will account for the loss of more than 2,000 jobs, globally) by creating new strategic divisions and bringing new faces to key roles to “make sure our technology roadmap is in line with the company realignment”.

For its part, the UK business, held up by Sony Ericsson as the model for local marketing and device selection, will see limited redundancies and a more streamlined portfolio this year.

Vautier reckons less than 20 devices will make it onto UK high streets, compared with closer to 30 last year, with each marketed more aggressively in 2009. The UK marketing budget will not be cut in 2009, says Vautier, despite fewer devices.

Full article in Mobile News 434 (March 9, 2009).

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