At Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson’s press conference Sunday evening in Barcelona, the day before Mobile World Congress kicks off, the company unveiled a new strategy that is designed to turn Sony Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) around. The idea is to fuse “communication and entertainment” together, which on a practical basis means bringing all of its properties, such as the Walkman music and Cyber-shot into one phone. Along with the new strategy, the company unveiled new phones, a new PlayNow service that allows for movie subscriptions and a new branded experience called “Entertainment Unlimited.”
— PlayNow Movies: The company’s content store PlayNow, which today offers music, games and other content, is adding full-track movie downloads. The movies will be downloaded to the PC and then sideloaded over to the phone. More information will be out later this year, but an exec afterward told me that it won’t just include Sony Entertainment content, but movies from across the various studios. In one scenario, movies may be offered on an unlimited basis, and once watched, expire. Today, iTunes and other players allow movies to be purchased and watched on the phone, but an unlimited movie subscription service, sort of like Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX), sounds new to the phone.
— Entertainment Unlimited: This will be the core of the proposition of integrating everything into one spot. Not only will it include the Walkman and Cyber-shot experiences, but Sony Ericsson said it will work to connect the phone more seamlessly to the Internet, TV, PC and more devices. More information will come out in the second half of the year. The company will continue to have dedicated Walkman and Cyber-shot branded phones, but it sounds like they’ll be targeted more at the low-end market.
– Idou phone: To demonstrate Entertainment Unlimited, they unveiled the Idou phone (it is pronounced I-Do, not I-Do-You, and is only the prototype name). More information will come out before summer, but for now they are saying it is has a 12.1 megapixel camera, a full touchscreen, uses the Symbian OS and that it will be launching in the second-half of the year. Two carriers are expected to announce the support for Sony Ericsson’s Entertainment Unlimited this week. The company also announced the W955, a Walkman phone that is supposed to have a superior video-watching experience.
— PlayNow Update: Not to be forgotten is the company’s long-time content strategy, PlayNow. Today, it is in eight countries, but is expected to double in the next couple of months. Same with PlayNow Plus, which offers DRM-free unlimited music on a subscription basis (similar to Nokia’s Comes With Music). That has only launched in Sweden, but is expected to be “in many more countries in the next couple of months.”
Photo: Reporters clamor to get a look at the Idou behind glass.