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article imageSony Ericsson: At the Forefront of Mobile Communication

By Mike Drach     May 22, 2003 in Technology
TORONTO (djc) - When the communications giants Ericsson and Sony made the decision to merge in November 2000, industry analysts speculated that the combination would be unstoppable. It may have taken a few years to prove, but today Sony Ericsson is clearly at the top of the stack.
The Sony Ericsson logo is both futuristic and organic and designed to invoke the concepts of flexibility and fluidity.
Their product line currently encompasses more than 10 first-rate cell phones, favoured by customers for their ease of use and reliability. They arrived on the scene with a bang, quick to incorporate such innovative elements as the SIM card, camera attachments, and Bluetooth technology, which many companies promised but have been sluggish to employ. Hard to believe that, only about one year ago, Sony Ericsson’s only real branded product was their spherical green logo.
Then again, even their corporate icon was designed to impress. Yesterday, at an informal and intimate product presentation held at Toronto’s Design Exchange building, I had the pleasure of meeting part of the company’s Creative Design Centre team, including vice president Hiroshi Nakaizumi, and art director Takuya Kawagoi, the designer of the distinctive logo.
Takuya Kawagoi, Sony Ericsson Art Director and designer of the Sony Ericsson Logo. – Photo djc features
Although it is meant to look partially like the symbiotic amalgamation of an “S” and a lowercase “e,” the logo also represents the company’s entire design philosophy, as Kawagoi explained. It’s both futuristic and organic, designed to invoke the concepts of flexibility and fluidity. Kawagoi used morphing techniques to draft it in several stages, which is why it’s often shown as a quick animation at the end of television ads — with some extra pyrotechnics. Eventually, they may revamp the symbol to make it simpler and more inclusive so the image reflects the evolution and expansion of the company.
Sony Ericsson Vice President, Creative Design Centre, Hiroshi Nakaizumi. – Photo djc features
Nakaizumi explained the philosophies behind the design of the phones themselves: to make them human-centred, lifestyle-oriented, comfortable, and above all, enjoyable. Although the phrase, “soulful products that speak to human emotion” seemed slightly over the top, Sony Ericsson’s design reps insist that they aim to be more than just a storefront that pushes unnecessary technologies onto the consumer. At the same time, they recognize the universal need for cool new gadgetry that needs to be indulged.
Thus, the T610. It’s impressively well-crafted, designed without a single straight line, and yet doesn’t appear curved. Smooth, solid, with sophisticated colour schemes, it really does feel pleasant to handle. It has a wide, 65,536-colour screen, several built-in games, Bluetooth capabilities and polyphonic sound — you can even create your own MIDI rings, including drums and basslines, with the included Melody Composer. But its flagship feature is the built-in camera hiding on the back of the unit. With the press of a button, you have a picture you can instantly send to friends and family.
Also on display was the T310, featuring a more rugged, angular design. It too has a high-res screen, 32-tone polyphonic sound and a five-way joystick to play its 40 integrated games (the European and Asian models include Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4). It becomes a camera with the optional MCA-25 CommuniCam attachment.
There were other brand-new products to play with, such as the flip-open P800 with its touchscreen, stylus input, slick Bluetooth-enabled headset, and PDA-like set of functions. Or the HBM-30, a tiny hands-free phone that doubles as a digital audio player, using a 64MB Memory Stick Duo for storage. If you need to take a call in the middle of rocking out, it pauses and restarts automatically. It leads me to believe that Sony Ericsson will make a strong competitor in that race to successfully create “the thing that does everything,” something we all secretly want.
For now, we can expect built-in and attached cameras to increase in popularity — last year, Sony Ericsson sold 1.3 million such attachments — and the next time-killer apps will probably be built-in television, more LAN gaming, and video cameras. Their A1301S phone, currently available in Japan, features an integrated rotating video camera eye, and is already selling well.
Sony Ericsson also revealed an experimental device that may or may not appear in the future: a slightly bent, pen-like contraption that’s actually a camera, text scanner, stylus and projector. It can be used to manipulate and edit text or images on any surface, by dragging and dropping. You can also e-mail with it, and yes, even call people.
www.sonyericsson.com
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