Entertainment Unlimited from Sony-Ericsson

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On the eve of the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, phone maker Sony Ericsson took the wraps of a new strategy the company hopes will propel it into the top echelons of the mobile industry. Of course, that strategy includes new phones, including a new touch-screen video-oriented unit codenamed “Idou” that features a whopping 12 megapixel camera. However, the most significant part of Sony Ericsson’s path forward might be Entertainment Unlimited, a new service offering that looks to combine gaming, messaging, information, communications, and media services all into a single offering.

“Entertainment Unlimited lets us reinforce our position as the communication entertainment brand,” said Sony Ericsson’s head of global marketing Lennard Hoornik, in a statement. “Everything that we have done to date has brought us to this point—we created the music phone category in 2005 selling over 100 million Walkman phones and we are now ready to unveil the next chapter in the evolution of the company.”

Entertainment Unlimited will bring together Sony Ericsson’s rather balkanized television, mobile, and PC efforts to create an integrated services and content platform that eliminates barriers between communication, information, and entertainment. Users will be able to transfer movies and media back and forth between handsets and PCs, building on the existing PlayNow service Sony Ericsson operates in eight countries…although not in the United States.

To illustrate the company’s new direction, executives showed off a new phone codenamed “Idou,” which the company says will ship in the second half of 2009. The Idou will run the forthcoming open source version of Symbian and sport a 3.5-inch 16:9 touch screen display, integrated Wi-Fi—and a seriously overkill 12.1 megapixel camera with a Xenon flash.

Although Sony Ericsson isn’t a big player in the North American market (and another Walkman phone announced today, featuring an 8 megapixel camera with face recognition image stabilization won’t make it to the U.S. at all), the company is still a significant force in European and Asian markets. Whether Entertainment Unlimited and a new high-end phone will be enough to sustain Sony Ericsson’s momentum during an economic downturn remains to be seen: the company lost $248 million in its most recent quarter.


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