Matt Maier has a fantastic piece on the Sony Ericsson turnaround today. He is talking up a storm with Urban Gillstrom, president of Sony Ericsson and an avowed gadget freak, sat down with Business 2.0 to talk about the death of the PDA, Sony Ericsson’s future, and where the convergence trend will take the wireless industry.
Like the Red Sox and the artist currently known as Prince, Sony Ericsson is enjoying an incredible turnaround. Earlier this month it announced its fifth straight profitable quarter. With profits of $110 million on sales of $2.1 billion, the London-based company made a 20 percent jump in market share, hurtling past Korea’s LG to become the world’s fifth-largest mobile-phone maker.
And after he met with the SE people, he sent me this review of what he deems is going to be the next bit hit for SE. (By the way, MobileTracker has skinny on another cool SE phone!) Whenever reps from a carrier or phone manufacturer stop by, I pay close attention to the phones they’re using. For instance, even with hundreds of models to pick from, the Nokia folks I meet always seem to carry 6600’s. So when I sat down with the folks from Sony Ericsson yesterday I immediately noticed that in addition to the obligatory P910’s (which is at the PR equivalent of Defcon 5 right now), they were all using S700s as their primary phones. I hadn’t seen it in person up until then, but after playing around with one, I think they may have another hit like the T610 on their hands.
First off, the phone looks gorgeous—you can really see Sony’s design acumen in the S700. Personally, the P910 looks a little beastly to me, but the S700 is all clean lines and seamless design. They called it a jack-knife design because, like the Samsung p735 and others, the keyboard flips out from behind what looks a LOT like a Sony DSC-P150 face. It really does look like a camera when the keyboard is stowed away, and with good reason. The S700 is Sony Ericsson’s first 1 megapixel digital camera (in the US) and–totally subjective, unscientific opinion to follow—the best of the 1 megapixel cameras I’ve seen. I’m sorry, but the picture quality on the Motorola V710 and most other 1 megapixel phonecams is shall we say, sub-optimal. Not so the S700. The colors were great, and the picture quality surprisingly clean. You can see where these phones are subsuming low-end camera features.
Available in the US in December—it’s been out in Europe for a bit—the S700 will also feature EDGE support, which should make for a improved data experience. It’s nice to see high-speed data making its way into what’s obviously a consumer device, too bad they couldn’t do the same for the P910a, as the more time I spend using a broadband connection the less patient I am with GPRS speeds. Sony Ericsson is also aggressively pursuing the digital music market so the S700 includes a more than adequate MP3 player and a memory stick slot. I know Memory Stick drives removable storage jihadi’s bat-shit, but it’s better than nothing. And as has been pointed out, Sony Ericsson’s phones supports AAC, MP3 and other formats, so it’s nice to see they are making it easier for consumers to enjoy their music, regardless of its provenance. Now, if only Big Sony would follow suit and open up entirely.
Guest review by Matt Maier, Business 2.0’s fearless gizmo correspondent and my fellow traveler into the wireless wonderland. Matt uses six phones at a time, talks on none, takes video clips on two and when he is slowing down he double fists fizzy and fancy caffeine drinks.