Sony Ericsson looking for Android developers

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HELSINKI: Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, the mobile-phone venture of Sony Corp and Ericsson AB, will add developers in the US and China as it aims to become the largest maker of handsets using Google Inc’s Android software.

Sony Ericsson aims to expand its global share of Android handsets to at least 25 per cent from 14 per cent currently, Chief Executive Officer Bert Nordberg said in an interview in Beijing, without specifying a timeframe.

Sony Ericsson, competing against HTC Corp and Samsung Electronics Co in the Android market, has more than tripled its development staff in California to 300 in the past year while those in Beijing jumped 60 per cent to 1,600. Android is challenging Nokia Oyj’s Symbian as the most popular smartphone system as cheaper components and competition among vendors make handsets featuring the Google software more affordable.

“Our growth, if you talk growth in jobs, has been in Beijing and Redwood Shores California since I joined the company,” said Nordberg, 54, who became president and CEO in October 2009. “The epicenter of the mobile industry has moved to the West Coast of the US. When I grew up, it was a European industry.”

Nokia, the world’s largest maker of mobile phones, said last month that it plans to retire its Symbian software platform as it adopts Seattle-based Microsoft Corp’s Windows Phone 7. Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC is the world’s largest maker of handsets using Google and Microsoft operating systems.

New phones
Sony Ericsson in January announced its first high-end product in almost a year, Xperia Arc, a slim phone with an 8 megapixel camera. The Xperia Play, unveiled in Barcelona last month, was accompanied by the Xperia Neo, and the Xperia Pro, a touchscreen model with a slideout Qwerty keyboard.
All run Gingerbread, the latest version of Android. Over the rest of this year, Sony Ericsson will announce at least four more new phones, Nordberg said, without providing details on the new handsets.

As new devices are introduced, the company will increasingly sell them in the US first as the nation represents about 45 per cent of the Android market currently, Nordberg said.

“The market has changed,” Nordberg said. “We see a lot of our products being rolled out in the US first, or in parallel when we roll it out on the global market, which is a change for this company. It has always come later in the US previously. That’s a change which required us to invest.”

Last month, Sony Ericsson announced the Xperia Play, a touchscreen smartphone with slide-out Sony Playstation console controls, in a bid to carve out a gaming niche. That device goes on sale in the US in April and should come to China about three months later, Nordberg said.

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