@ MidemNet: Sony Ericsson Won't Follow Apple Down Touchscreen-Only Route

[By Robert Andrews] The “conversation with Miles Flint” session at MidemNet Sunday morning seemed like more of an opportunity for the Sony Ericsson president to bask in the handset maker’s Q4 report released last week. “Last year we sold a total of 75 million phones, 60 million of those music-enabled, 17 million Walkman phones – 20 million [of them] since August 2005,” he said. “It is a function of all aspects of the business constantly improving. We’re not just a little minnow. We made the announcement for the Walkman here in Cannes in February 2005, started shipping August 2005 and it’s just been a sleigh ride ever since. If you go back to 2005, we sold 10 million music-enabled phones and iPod sold 11 million; there’s been a big change. We always said the future of mobile music was on the phone rather than on a dedicated music player.” Comparatively, Apple sold 39 million iPods in the year to September.

Hoping it would stir things up, I asked Flint whether he agreed that, with so many new features being added to mobiles, the traditional press-button interface could no longer cope. And I asked whether he
felt threatened by Steve Jobs targeting 1 percent of the mobile market with Apple’s iPhone, which includes includes interfaces that adapt to functions on a large touch-screen.

“This industry lives on innovation, so I’m never going to criticize innovation, wherever it comes from,” Flint replied. “[My phone] has a keyboard, this one has a jog dial, which is a Sony-patented technology, it’s also got a touch-screen that you can touch with fingers and it also has a stylus. A stylus is very well appreciated by many consumers. Our point of view is that a number of different ways of inputting information and getting it back from the device is important. There are many ways. Personally, I think our view is that to go a single input route without a keyboard is not something you’re likely to see coming from Sony Ericsson – but please don’t interpret that as a specific comment on another device that’s been announced.”

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