Global Economics

Sony Ericsson's CEO Talks Strategy


Hideki Komiyama discusses the company's new Xperia phone line, strategies for the competitive mobile-phone marketplace, and the company's goals

Hideki "Dick" Komiyama, a 64-year-old Sony (SNE) veteran, took the helm of Sony Ericsson on Nov. 6, 2007. The change in leadership came after the company had assumed its position as a strong No. 4 among the world's mobile-phone makers. Unit volumes and revenues have doubled in the past three years, increasing the global market share for Sony Ericsson—a joint venture of Sony and Ericsson (ERIC)—by three points, to 9.5%.

On Feb. 10 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Sony Ericsson rolled out its first-ever handsets built around the Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Mobile operating system, a coup for both companies (BusinessWeek.com, 2/10/08).

But Sony Ericsson faces an ever-changing market, including increasing competition over software and services. Google (GOOG) is moving into the mobile sector, rival Nokia (NOK) is moving into services, and the Apple (AAPL) iPhone has changed the face of the industry. Komiyama spoke to BusinessWeek's Jennifer L. Schenker at the Mobile World Congress about the company's strategy.

At the Mobile World Congress, Sony Ericsson announced it will introduce a new sub-brand called Xperia. What type of customers are you targeting with this new line?

What the consumer wants next has to be [mobile] Internet. The U.S. market is a PC environment, so this is a product strategy that is designed to have appeal there. We are casting this as a flagship product on the U.S. market, where the Sony Ericsson brand is not as well established.

The first phone in the Xperia line, the X1, is based on the Microsoft Windows operating system. What does this say about your commitment to Symbian?

Our relationship with Symbian is important and will continue. We also launched two Symbian models at the World Congress.

Will all phones in the Xperia line be based on Windows Mobile?

Not necessarily.

What's your strategy for emerging markets?

We are making investments in this area. We are doing well in Western and Central Europe and in Latin America, but we are not strong in emerging markets like India and China. We have opened up a design center in India and introduced two new models for the India market.

You took on the job of CEO in November. What are your goals for the company?

This is a market that is dynamic and competitive; there are a lot of disruptions and new entrants from different areas. It is important [to] have a very clear vision about where Sony Ericsson is in the ballpark and where and how we play. We want to tie together the best of entertainment on phones, and we want to become one of the top three manufacturers of handsets worldwide.


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