Sony Ericsson is no more. After just over a decade, the joint venture between the Swedish telecom giant and the Japanese consumer electronics titan has hit the end of the road, with Sony’s announcement last week that it would buy out Ericsson’s stake in the business for just over 1 million, roughly $1.47 billion. My only question: what took so long?
At one time, the deal made sense. After all, only Apple has a better track record when it comes to attractive and dramatic design than Sony does, and Ericsson had some of the best first- and second-generation GSM phones in the market, such as the PCS 1900 and the T68.
But it turned out that the biggest stumbling block wasn’t design or hardware; instead, it turned out to be software. In chaining its fate to that of Symbian and UIQ, Sony Ericsson was able to make an early entry into the smartphone market with the P-series handsets, but as Symbian fell increasingly behind upstarts such as Apple, the joint venture became less relevant with every year that passed.
That’s really a shame, because I had a P910a for years, and it was a reliable phone that never lived up to its promise as an application platform. But one can say the same thing about Microsoft’s attempts at the mobile market; the difference is that Microsoft’s stake in the hardware is minimal.
Today, one is just as likely to pick a phone by its OS as by the manufacturer; it’s hard to tell the Androids apart, at least from my perspective, and Microsoft seems determined to make Windows Mobile devices even more indistinguishable from one another. At this point, my only hope is to find a barbecue sauce that will help me choke down a column that I wrote almost 20 months ago.