Sony Ericsson Says China Is Embracing Smartphones

Sony Ericsson Chief Executive Bert Nordberg said Tuesday that he expects smartphone use in China to expand to half of all mobile-phone users in the country within five years, as the company joins other global handset makers in shifting its focus to higher-end devices.

In an interview, Mr. Nordberg also said Sony Ericsson, a joint venture between Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson of Sweden and Sony Corp. (SNE) of Japan, is unlikely to create its own tablet-style personal computer even though competitors Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. of South Korea are planning tablet launches. Sony is likely to produce any tablet that Sony Ericsson sells in the future, he said.

Tablets are “very interesting,” Mr. Nordberg said, adding, “I have focused very hard on devices you can have in your pocket.”

Mr. Nordberg said that as the price gap between smartphones and phones with fewer capabilities narrows in China, purchasing a smartphone will “not be unthinkable” even for less-wealthy consumers. Smartphone penetration “will quickly grow to 50 percent of the market…by 2015″ or earlier, he said.

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