**As published in RCR Wireless News** BARCELONA – Sony Ericsson put on a media soiree here in an incredibly packed night club on the beach last night to announce a suite of new devices and strategies. Not one executive hid from the incredibly tough slog the company has had of late, but each offered changes – both philosophical and tangible – that will improve market share and revenue if everything goes to plan. “I’m feeling a new wave of minor euphoria,” Sony Corp. CEO and President Sir Howard Stringer said, adding that three years have passed since he last attended Mobile World Congress due to his disappointment with the joint venture’s performance through that period.
Clunky software and fits and starts with product launches seem to have at least temporarily created divisions within the company and so gathering here with media and analysts was as much about putting a positive spin on where it sees things heading now as it was about announcing news. Bert Nordberg, president of Sony Ericsson, said communication and entertainment are now more key to its brand than ever before, hence Stringer’s presence particularly on the entertainment side. With a “daisy chain of products that will talk to each other,” future plans call for Sony to push the same experience it delivers on online-equipped devices in the home to Sony Ericsson devices, Stringer said. Rikko Sakaguchi, executive VP and chief creation officer, said the company has gone through many ideas and implementations to achieve its vision of making communication fun, but he admitted it hasn’t been smooth by any stretch. With the explosion of social networks, communication has become a many-to-many proposition that requires a new and more powerful need to stir up human emotions, he added As such, Sony Ericsson’s design strategy is now human centric from the inside out, Sakaguchi said. Going forward, products will be inspired by human emotion and organic nature – whether than means a panel layout that reflects the curvature of the human spine in its operating system layer called UXP (short for user experience) or the physical look and feel of each device with curvature on the backside intended to fit in the palm of your hand. UXP, which acts as a layer on top of whatever operating system the device runs on, is intended to make the user experience seamless across much of its portfolio. “Your communication must not be divided by technology,” Sakaguchi said. Features like displaying all communication from one contact and further blending media content and communication in single place are just a couple examples of what Sony Ericsson will have on new devices. “It has to be one seamless flow,” he added. Lennard Hoornik, global head of marketing at Sony Ericsson, began by asking how many times people pick up their devices every day. “If we can create a little smile every time you do that, that is what we’re after,” he said. Hoornik announced three new devices that will all be launched in the first half of this year. First up was the Vivaz Pro, which at just 2 millimeters thicker than the previously announced Vivaz, is a touchscreen Android device with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The last pair of sister devices to be announced, Xperia X10 Mini and Xperia X10 Mini Pro, got the most oohs and ahhs from the crowd. Packaged into an extremely tiny body with a touchscreen smaller than the size of a credit card, the Pro version includes quite possible the smallest slide-out QWERTY keyboard on the market designed for one-hand use.