Sony Ericsson looks to regain innovation tag

Sony Ericsson is hoping that a series of new products backed by its biggest marketing push to date will help boost brand perception after admitting that its image as an innovator has “dissipated”.

The handset maker recently introduced the Xperia Arc Android smartphone, and it is understood the company will unveil its PlayStation phone next month. It is expected to run Android software and include official PlayStation control buttons.

UK and Ireland marketing director David Hilton says: “Three years ago our products were the darling of the market and very easy to sell, but that’s dissipated in the past two years as our products have not been as innovative as Sony Ericsson products should be.

“We had a few quality problems but now we need to get the shops and call centres behind our products and selling them again as they used to.”

Sony Ericsson is the fourth-biggest smartphone manufacturer in the UK in terms of primary phones owned. It has a 5.6% share of the market, which Nokia leads with 28.8%, according to comScore November 2010 data.

The company reported weaker than expected fourth-quarter results last week, with net income at €8bn (£6.8bn), down from the €27bn (£22.7bn) it averaged in the first three quarters of the year.

Hilton adds: “We have to stand out and be different from all the other brands launching Android handsets [this year].

“We can’t do a lot about Apple, but there is a lot of crossover between its audience and ours. We know, for example, that more people buying iPhones have come from Sony Ericsson than any other phone brand: we’re both innovative tech brands with entertainment themes,” he adds.

Hilton says his marketing team’s main focus for 2011 is to define the Xperia range as the “most entertaining” smartphones in the market and build strong recognition of the brand. Teaser activity online and through PR will appear in February, with subsequent promotional and marketing activity at the end of March.

Top UK smartphones by market share (% use as primary device)

Manufacturer Handset owners (000) % Share
Nokia 4,549 28.8
Apple 4,276 27.1
RIM 2,735 17.3

Sony Ericsson 887 5.6
Samsung 867 5.5
LG 118 0.7
O2 57 0.4
Palm 48 0.3
Motorola 42 0.3

Source: comScore, November 2010

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