Sony eyes innovative mobile products to beat slump

Sony CEO Howard Stringer hinted on Thursday that the company has a number of new mobile devices are in the pipeline.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer hinted on Thursday that the company has a number of new mobile devices in the pipeline.

Speaking at a Tokyo news conference to outline Sony's plans for dealing with the poor economic conditions around the world, he said the mobile device area would be a focus.

"We will tap our unique strengths in gaming, entertainment, digital imaging and telephony to fast track a line-up of next-generation mobile devices," he said. No other details were announced or available.

Sony already makes a number of mobile devices.

In the gaming sector it has the PlayStation Portable, which was launched five years ago. The handheld device initially failed to meet Sony's expectations but sales got a boost in 2008 with a slimmer model and attractive games.

On Friday Sony said it expects to ship 15 million PSPs in the financial year to the end of March. There's also Sony Ericsson, the joint-venture cell-phone maker, which shipped 96.6 million handsets in 2008, and brands some phones with the CyberShot or Bravia names.

Sony has also had some failures in the space. Most notably its Mylo Internet device, which failed to gain traction after a launch in 2006. The Mylo (the name stood for "My Life Online," according to Sony) had a small screen, QWERTY keyboard and links to instant messaging and blogging sites but, unlike T-Mobile's competing Sidekick, only connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi thus restricting its use.

Stringer has put network connectivity at the center of Sony's future product plans and set a goal of offering networked gadgets in 90 percent of the company's product categories by the end of March 2011.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
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