updated 05:30 am EDT, Thu October 27, 2011
Sony to develop mobile phones solo
(Updated with end of basic phones) Sony has announced it has acquired Ericsson’s interest in what had been their ten-year old joint mobile phone venture. Previously rumored, the move ultimately came at a cost of €1.05 billion ($1.47 billion) as Sony bought Ericsson’s 50 percent stake in the company. The purchase also grants Sony access to what it calls a broad IP cross-licensing agreement and ownership of “five essential patent families.”
Sony says that the move will allow the company to more rapidly integrate its smartphones into its increasingly cohesive network-connected array of products and services. Sony chief, Sir Howard Stringer issued this statement on the matter:
"This acquisition makes sense for Sony and Ericsson, and it will make the difference for consumers, who want to connect with content wherever they are, whenever they want," he said. "With a vibrant smartphone business and by gaining access to important strategic IP, notably a broad cross-license agreement, our four-screen strategy is in place.
“We can more rapidly and more widely offer consumers smartphones, laptops, tablets and televisions that seamlessly connect with one another and open up new worlds of online entertainment. This includes Sony's own acclaimed network services, like the PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network."
Sony says that it has approval to go ahead with the deal from all interested regulatory authorities and the deal will be finalized in January 2012. The company had previously hinted that the relationship with Ericsson had been hindering its long-term strategy, and the move to own the mobile phone business outright, gives it complete control over product integration.
Update: The company has added that it will put an end to basic feature phones as part of the deal. For now, Sony will only be producing Android devices, although Sir Stringer said "never say never" to the possibility of acquiring webOS from HP.