Sony Ericsson Unveils New Handsets(2)

Fri, 05/29/2009 - 9:23am
Jane Wardell, AP Business Writer

LONDON (AP) — Sony Ericsson said Thursday it will launch three new handsets on the market early in the fourth quarter, unveiling details of new products designed to help stall a slump in mobile phone sales.

One of the products, the Satio, is a renamed version of the Idou phone that the Swedish-Japanese company originally announced at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

It will be joined by two other new handsets, the Aino and the Yari, as part of the company's strategy to beef up its line of products that merge communication and entertainment.

The Satio has a 12-megapixel camera, free access to Hollywood movies and a touch-screen keypad, while the Yari is hands-free gaming focused, and the Aino concentrates on music and videos.

"This is a new Sony Ericsson you see before you today," Steve Walker, vice president of marketing, Sony Ericsson Mobile, said at the launch in London. "It's taking all the things we have become ... and taking a big step beyond."

Sony Ericsson, the world's fourth-largest maker of mobile phones, has been struggling amid a wider downturn in mobile phone sales.

Overall handset sales fell 8.5 percent in the first quarter of this year, according to research firm Gartner. "Mid-market" phones — traditionally Sony Ericsson's patch — suffered the steepest decline.

In contrast, demand for so-called smartphones such as the iPhone and Nokia's 5800 is growing, with sales forecast to lift some 27 percent this year. The new Satio also is a smartphone.

Sony Ericsson posted a euro293 million loss in the first quarter as demand for its handsets fell by around 35 percent, which the company attributed to the global financial crisis.

The Sony Corp. and LM Ericsson AB joint venture said it was aiming to return to profitability "as quickly as possible," but also announced an additional 2,000 job losses to trim costs. Those cuts add to 2,000 layoffs that were part of a previous savings program. Combining the two represents around 30 percent of the company's work force.

The Satia handset will provide Web albums with messages, a touch-based media menu, as well as pre-loaded Facebook and YouTube applications.

The Yari handset is heavily gaming focused, reacting to phone users' gestures in a similar way to Nintendo's Wii. The phone will include a 5-megapixel camera and dedicated gaming keys.

The Aino has a 3-inch touchscreen and will come equipped with a remote control for Playstation 3, enabling users to control and access media content on the gaming console from their phone.

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•  Sony Ericsson Unveils New Handsets
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•  FirstNews Briefs for May 29, 2009



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