New Chief Signals Change At Sony Ericsson

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What is the #1 job for Sony Ericsson's new president? Making us care. Job #2 is winning corporate customers. Job #3 may be forgetting Sony exists.

Normally, I don't write about musical chairs at failing companies--such moves rarely seem to help. This could be different.

The problem with Sony Ericsson has been too much emphasis on non-competitive entertainment features. Sure, Sony invented the Walkman, but it hasn't seriously challenged Apple in years. And the Sony Ericsson handsets reflected this.

Actually, this is a malaise that seems to have infected all of Sony, but that is a topic for another day. I used to buy lots of Sony gear, but haven't done so recently. Most people don't even think about Sony Ericsson anymore.

The reorganization, in which a 14-year Ericsson veteran named Bert Nordberg takes the helm is an excellent move. Gone is a Sony exec that had been running Sony Ericsson into the ground with an emphasis on music and camera features.

Nordberg has IT and Silicon Valley experience and is already telling the New York Times that applications and mobile Internet need to become the brand's strengths.

This doesn't mean it will be easy. Sony Ericsson has been losing money and both corporate parents have seemed worried, leading to rumors that the 50/50 partnership which began in 2001 was in trouble.

Nordberg told the Times that while the two parent companies are concerned, they also remain committed.

What troubles me is that Sony boss Howard Stringer is taking over as chair of Sony Ericsson and hired Nordberg for his new position.

My concern it that instead of taking a much more business and applications approach, along with adding more mobile Internet features, that Stringer might be unwilling to abandon some of the Sony-centric approach that has crippled the handset maker in recent quarters.

Time will tell, but today's events bode well the future of Sony Ericsson.

Industry veteran David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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