Our look at some of the big stories in mobile today: Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) updates its Xperia mini devices, and adds a “Facebook inside” feature; T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom (NYSE: DT) warning of challenging times ahead; Visa to refresh its mobile payments strategy.
– Sony Ericsson: It may not be big enough anymore to break out as major OEM in IDC’s most recent handset rankings, but Sony Ericsson is still pressing on and launching products it hopes will strike the right note with users. On the same day that Sony Ericsson launched new editions of its Xperia mini and mini pro devices, it also unveiled a major integration of Facebook into the entire Xperia line of devices.
The two new handsets, which will be available in Q3 of 2011, feature bigger screens, faster processors and the latest handset version of Android, 2.3 commonly known as “Gingerbread.”
Meanwhile, while Sony Ericsson is not going as far as HTC or INQ is launching a “Facebook phone,” it is putting Facebook closer to the core of the mobile experience on its devices than ever before. Sony Ericsson says that Facebook inside Xperia will make the social network “immediately accessible from the most used areas of the phone,” the picture gallery, phone book, calendar and music player. In the music integration, people will be able to “like” tracks, and that will automatically update in their profiles as well. Sony Ericsson says this is a new service. Given the number of other “social” music services that were are seeing in the market (eg from Spotify and Rdio) it will be worth watching if those get integrated into the mix, too.
The Facebook update will be available to all Xperia users when they upgrade the software on their devices to 2.3; and as such it will come preinstalled on the new mini devices.
– T-Mobile: Looks like AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile USA could not come a moment too soon for parent Deutsche Telekom. The operator, which reported its earnings earlier today, noted that the operation lost 99,000 customers in the last quarter, with the growing prepay segment unable to make up for the declines in the contract segment. The total number of subscribers is now 33.6 million. Revenues were virtually unchanged at €3.8 billion ($5.5 billion). Group-wide the company reported net profits of €480 million ($697 million), compared to €767 million ($1.1 billion) a year ago. Revenues were also down to €14.6 billion ($21.2 billion), down from €15.8 billion ($23 billion). More results here.
– Visa: Heads up for news from the credit card and payment giant Visa, with potentially a new push on mobile payments in partnership with others. The company’s CEO Joseph Saunders yesterday said that the company could be announcing developments on its e-commerce strategy as early as next week, according to Dow Jones . Last week, Visa (and competitors like MasterCard) scored a win of sorts when the mobile operators behind the Isis mobile payments scheme said they would scale back their NFC ambitions (which might have originally bypassed Visa), in favor of a mobile wallet service in cooperation with Visa and other big payment providers.
– JiWire: The location-based advertising company, which uses WiFi networks as the basis of its platform, has raised $20 million in funding. Investors in this round included Trident Capital, along with Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) Interactive Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Panorama Capital, and Norwest Venture Partners. In an emailed release, JiWire notes that John Moragne from Trident will join the JiWire board.
Total funding for the company has now reached $45 million. The new funds will be used for product development and international expansion.