Why Sony Ericsson Is Living in a Land of Make.Believe

yari

Sony Ericsson Yari with gesture gaming

Sony Ericsson is hoping that a brand makeover can somehow heal its critically wounded handset business. The joint venture between Ericsson and Sony said today that it will adopt Sony’s “make.believe” tagline in its marketing campaigns to “reinforce its entertainment credentials” with consumers. The company promises a new logo and a “more open and questioning attitude” as well as a viral campaign in support of the new Aino, Satio and Yari phones this fall.

Rather than investing in slick new messaging, though, Sony Ericsson might consider making handsets that consumers actually want. The company posted a $299 million second-quarter loss in June on the heels of a $382 million first-quarter deficit. Meanwhile, its share of the worldwide handset market fell during the first half of the year to 4.7 percent from 5.4 percent, and its total number of shipped units slumped by more than 6 percent.

Sony Ericsson continues to pay the price for its inattention to the low end of the market and a lack of multimedia-friendly, messaging-centric phones. Once considered the premier manufacturer of music phones, Sony Ericsson has lost substantial ground to Apple and Nokia, among others. The company — like countless other players — aims to right the ship with a new app store for Java- and Symbian-enabled devices.

The OEM will target younger users later this year with the Yari, a gaming device that takes its cues from the Wii and allows players to use body movements to manipulate games. And the Aino will offer a remote-play feature that can run digital media content hosted on a Playstation 3 gaming console.

But Sony Ericsson’s only real hope for the long-term may be a PSP-branded phone that leverages Sony’s traction in the video game space. While the market for gaming-centric phones is questionable — see Nokia’s history with the Ngage — such a device could prove popular with a young, data-hungry mobile set. And it would be a better investment than a branding facelift.

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