Sony Buys Ericsson Out Of JV To Make ‘Four-Screen Strategy’ With Mobile

Sony (NYSE: SNE) has confirmed it is buying Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) out of their Sony Ericsson mobile handset-making joint venture for €1.05 ($1.46/£0.92) billion.

“Our four-screen strategy is in place,” Sony CEO Howard Stringer says.

The rationale: “(It) gives Sony an opportunity to rapidly integrate smartphones into its broad array of network-connected consumer electronics devices – including tablets, televisions and personal computers,” according to the company.

Says Sony: “During the past ten years, the mobile market has shifted focus from simple mobile phones to rich smartphones that include access to internet services and content. The transaction is a logical strategic step that takes into account the nature of this evolution and its impact on the marketplace.”

Ten years too late? Sony has struggled to keep pace with rivals, notably Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), on hardware but also on content services. Whilst its PlayStation Network is popular, the company recently did a quick rebranding job on its curious Qriocity service for accessing music, movies and more content.

Now labeled “Music Unlimited” and “Video Unlimited“, Sony wants to offer it across its TVs, Blu-ray players, games consoles, tablets and mobile phones.

It’s not clear why it couldn’t have done this with Ericsson aboard, but, since the pair formed their JV in 2001, Ericsson has become more of a wireless transmissions infrastructure company, with less of an interest in either handset manufacture or content per se. The pair part with Sony getting an undetailed intellectual property cross-licensing agreement and five handset patents.

“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,” Stringer says. “This includes Sony’s own acclaimed network services, like the PlayStation Network and Sony Entertainment Network. We can help people enjoy all our content – from movies to music and games – through our many devices, in a way no one else can.”

Sony Ericsson claims 11 percent of the Anrdoid market by value.