Sony Ericsson ups its game plan

Von Sean Bacher

Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB last week held a worldwide launch at which it unveiled its new range of handsets and accessories, all aimed at different market segments.

At the launch, the company showed off new handsets, such as the J300 entry-level phone, its K300 camera phone, the K750 2-megapixel camera phone and its W800 Walkman phone. On the accessory side, Sony Ericsson showcased, among other things, its Bluetooth Media Center, which allows users to wirelessly transmit phone content to a TV or hi-fi, and its MXE-60 flash, which comes standard with all its new camera phones.

However, according to Avinesh Pillay, product manager at Sony Ericsson, the W800 Walkman phone is its ?wow? product. ?Walkman is a well established household brand name that everybody associates with Sony. The W800 is the first in a long line of phones to include the Walkman brand,? says Pillay.

The Walkman handsets will play MP3 and AAC music formats, and are designed for ease of transfer and compatibility with PCs. The company?s pitch, however, is that ?you can take your entire CD collection and move it onto the phone?.

?The W800 offers users up to 30 hours of battery life and also includes a 2-megapixel camera with an auto-focus option and 4X digital zoom,? he says. The phone comes with a set of headphones, 32MB of internal memory, and also includes a 512MB Sony Memory Stick Duo, allowing users to listen to entire albums on their phone. Also included with the phone is Disk2Phone software for copying songs from their PC to their phone.

There has been a lot of talk about Sony Ericsson giving Apple Computer Inc.?s iPod a run for its money, but Pillay says: ?We see music phones and iPods as complementary product categories.

Music phones will fill a ?spontaneous listening? space in the market for times when you do not have your dedicated digital music player with you, rather like camera phones that have led to spontaneous picture taking. We believe that music phones will appeal to iPod and other digital music player users, as they already have large amounts of digital music stored on their PCs and will be able to use the same music files on their phones.

?The W800 will be available in SA in the third quarter of 2005, and will include tri-band connectivity,? concludes Pillay.