Sony Ericsson CEO Disses on Windows Phone

Posted by at 10:19 am on October 3, 2011

Sony Ericsson’s current CEO Bert Nordberg in an interview Monday regretted that his company ignored Apple but also wouldn’t assuage Microsoft. Although he wasn’t CEO at 2007, the executive explained to the WSJ that his company “should have taken the iPhone more seriously” when it launched. Sony Ericsson was once near the top of the cellphone and smartphone markets but has fallen out of the top five of both.

He resisted pressure to join HTC, LG, and Samsung in supporting Windows Phone. Like Motorola, Sony Ericsson is one of the few to stay Android-only. Those that have gone cross-platform have usually done so with a Microsoft licensing deal where it’s presumed they get a ‘discount’ for using Windows Phone. Sony Ericsson hasn’t struck a deal and may be pushed into paying more if it doesn’t agree, although Nordberg made clear that he thought Windows Phone was inferior for now.

“At this point I wouldn’t feel comfortable investing in a platform that isn’t as good as the one that we currently use,” he said. “Therefore we have remained with Android, but I am quite curious about Windows Phone.”

Sony Ericsson has spent much of Nordberg’s tenure switching its focus. The company was once focused almost solely on mid-range and low-end basic feature phones and only gradually accepted the transition to smartphones. It has managed to stem and even reverse losses by switching nearly all of its focus to smartphones. A recent return to loss was mostly sparked by the northern Japanese earthquake disrupting Sony Ericsson’s more efficient but also less flexible supply chain.

Part of how Sony Ericsson plans to improve its status is a more serious commitment to the US. Like Nokia, Sony Ericsson was for years focused on the European market on the assumption that it would forever be the center of the smartphone industry. Apple and later Google shifted attention and left Sony Ericsson with few deals.

The Xperia Play was a step towards acknowledging the US, Nordberg said. However, he admitted that it was more a foot in the door with AT&T and Verizon. The company needed to “broaden” its American lineup now that it had a stake in the industry.

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