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Sony may buy out Ericsson’s half of phone partnership


The partnership between Sony and Ericsson has always been a precarious one for consumers. While almost everyone knows the name Sony, few outside the tech industry recognize the Ericsson brand these days. With sales down and its foothold in the U.S. market almost nonexistent, Sony may finally be planning to exit the partnership that helped it establish a foothold in the mobile world 10 years ago. The WSJ reports that Sony has almost finalized a deal to buy out Ericsson’s 50 percent stake in their joint venture. Rumors of the deal come as Sony Ericsson’s market share stands at less than 3 percent of the market, far below the 9 percent it once held. 

“The buyout allows Sony to move development in-house and better integrate other products like gaming into newer phones,” said Steven Nathasingh from U.S. technology research firm Vaxa Inc (via Reuters). 

Though we aren’t sure what the situation might be with patents, assuming a deal can be worked out, it would make sense for Sony to abandon the Ericsson brand for its consumer phones. While the companies had some success leveraging the Walkman brand some years back, they have struggled to make an impact in the competitive Android smartphone market in recent years, despite having decent hardware. The Xperia Play is one of the latest phones to debut in the U.S. market and fail to make much impact. The phone, which has a full gamepad, may have done better under a Sony PlayStation branding, but as a Sony Ericsson device it seems to be floundering, though it may simply be a concept that isn’t resonating with users. 

Do you think Sony would be better off on its own in the mobile market or should it stick with Ericsson?

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Jeffrey Van Camp
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As DT's Deputy Editor, Jeff helps oversee editorial operations at Digital Trends. Previously, he ran the site's…
Bluetooth certification reveals Sony Ericsson LT28at LTE super phone

A new smartphone from Sony Ericsson has been revealed through its Bluetooth certification entry, and rather than being another for the European networks, it's listed as a North American model only. The LT28at will be coming to AT&T and will connect to their LTE high-speed network.
While it's not the first phone to be leaked via Bluetooth's site, the blurb features an unusually high level of detail. Described as a "tablet capacity super phone", the LT28at will feature a 4.55-inch Reality Display touchscreen with a 720p, HD resolution. Sony Ericsson's Reality Display screens can also be found on the Arc and Arc S phones, and it uses Bravia software enhancements to produce vivid colors and and sharp images.
The LT28at will also have a massive 13-megapixel camera that can also shoot 720p video. A series of images said to be taken with the camera have also been leaked, and even after being published on the web in a condensed form, still look absolutely fantastic.
Google Android is going to be the LT28at's operating system, but which version hasn't been stated, and a 1.5Ghz dual-core processor has also been linked to the new device. Other features include a forward-facing video call camera lens, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (obviously) and dual microphones for noise suppression.
There are similarities here with the LT26i, codenamed Nozomi, which is also likely to feature a 1.5Ghz processor, but a slightly smaller 4.3-inch touchscreen.
It seems logical to expect the LT28at to make its debut appearance at CES in January.

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Sony Ericsson demos Ice Cream Sandwich, releases alpha ROM for developers

With Android Ice Cream Sandwich only officially available on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, there are sure to be plenty of Android fans who want to get a glimpse of the new version running on a different phone. Sony Ericsson has come to the rescue with this demonstration video, showing an early build running on an Xperia Arc S.
The company recently announced they would be releasing an Ice Cream Sandwich update for their 2011 range of Xperia-branded devices, however it's a lengthy and complex process and with the source code only a few weeks old, owners still have a while to wait before it officially arrives.
Rather than work away without input from users, Sony Ericsson has released an "alpha build" ICS ROM to accompany the video. It's compatible with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S, the Xperia Ray and the Xperia Neo V, and provided they have an unlocked bootloader the ROM can be installed.
Great news, right? Yes, but before you go rushing off to download it, you should know that the ROM is designed for developmental testing, and not for everyday use. Sony Ericsson wants to get as much feedback as possible, and has therefore disabled the modem, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, the FM radio and the antenna inside the ROM.
Yes, they're spoilsports, but the alpha ROM still does a great job of showing how Ice Cream Sandwich looks and performs on devices other than the Galaxy Nexus. If you're confident to start messing around with your Xperia phone, Sony Ericsson provides full instructions on how to apply the ROM on their developer site, and even recommends you join the XDA community afterwards to converse with like-minded hackers.
Now, how many other other manufacturers will follow Sony Ericsson's lead and release preview versions of Ice Cream Sandwich?

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‘Sony Ericsson’ to become ‘Sony’ by mid 2012

Sony announced its intention to buy its way out of its 50/50 joint phone venture with Ericsson around the end of October. The Japanese company will pay Ericsson about $1.5 billion dollars so that it can begin branding its smartphones solely as Sony products. From the looks of it, the brand change will happen fairly soon. According to a Sony executive speaking with The Times of India, the Sony Ericsson brand will be phased out by the middle of 2012. Sony will continue making smartphones, but sell them under its own Sony branding. 
"A lot of planning goes into getting the branding right but we will be done by middle of next year," said Kristian Tear, executive vice president and head of sales and marketing at Sony Ericsson. "It will also mean that the marketing and advertising investments will go up. We haven't been as fierce as we were a few years back but we will step it up, refocus and invest more in brand-building in select markets and India is one of those markets."
We imagine that the US is one of those markets. Sony has quite a bit of work to do as well. The company has little to no smartphone presence on US carriers, despite its focus on Android and the launch of its Xperia Play earlier this year, which brought PlayStation games to Android with the comfort of a full gamepad. Most of Sony Ericsson's smartphone releases are relegated to AT&T, or must be purchased "unlocked" outside of the wireless carrier ecosystem, which is a difficult and foreign concept to many US consumers. 
Does Sony have a better shot using its own brand? We think so, but it may need a strategic reboot all around. The recently launched duo of Sony tablets, the S and P, aren't making any headlines or topping any sales charts as of yet. 

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