Sony buys Ericsson out of mobile phone venture

Written by Reuters | London | Updated: Oct 28 2011, 04:54am hrs
Sony is taking over the Sony Ericsson mobile phone joint venture for 1.05 billion euros ($1.45 billion) as it seeks to catch up with smartphone and tablet makers such as Apple and Samsung.

The deal to buy out its Swedish partner gives Sony ownership of certain handset patents held by Ericsson and will enable it to integrate the joint ventures output with its own range of products and content.

We can more rapidly and more widely offer consumers smartphones, laptops, tablets and televisions that seamlessly connect with one another and open up new worlds of online entertainment, Sonys chairman and CEO Sir Howard Stringer said in a statement.

Until now Sonys tablets, games and other consumer electronics devices have been kept separate from the phones sold and created by Sony Ericsson.

Since television sales are set to fall, smartphones look to become more important products for Sony since their sales are rising globally and they will probably become the main device people use to connect to the Internet, said analyst Nobuo Kurahashi of Mizuho Investors Securities in Tokyo.

Smartphone sales have been surging since Apple rolled out its first iPhone in 2007 and despite a slowdown in the overall consumer electronics market the fast-growing demand for smartphones is expected to continue. The takeover of Sony Ericsson by the Japanese group had long been talked of.

Founded in 2001, Sony Ericsson last year took around 2% of the global cellphone market with sales of 6.3 billion euros and employs some 7,500 people. Initially it thrived with an array of camera and music phones but then lost out in the smartphone race.