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Sony and Ericsson are to expand their partnership beyond cell phones to provide mobile television and broadband services.

Ericsson, the Swedish telecoms equipment maker, announced the expansion of the Sony Ericsson partnership on Thursday. Per Nordlof, Ericsson's director of product strategy and portfolio management, told Reuters: "There is a strong confidence between Ericsson and Sony after the success of the handset business and we will work to develop software that connects the gadgets in the home with the outer world."

Sony Ericsson was a joint venture formed by the two companies in 2001 and has since become the world's fourth-largest mobile handset maker. Last month the company announced earnings of €433m for its fiscal third quarter, up 187 per cent on the same period last year.

Sales for the period amounted to €2,913m, representing a year-on-year increase of 42 per cent, and net income was €298m, compared to €104m last year. The joint venture shipped 19.8 million phones during the period and currently employs over 7,000 people worldwide in Europe, Japan, China, and America.

Nordlof said Ericsson and the Japanese electronics giant expect there to be a mass market for mobile television within the next two years, with 30 per cent of mobile phone users accessing mobile television by then. He said consumer demands will force telecom operators to offer broadband television services in order to retain their subscribers.

Consumer demand for mobile television in Ireland at present is relatively small. Vodafone's Sky Mobile TV service, which was launched in June, currently has 68,000 subscribers out of the mobile giant's 2.1 million Irish customers. Despite the relatively low take up of mobile television offerings there are more options coming on the market to tempt Irish consumers.

Three Ireland's X-Series of mobile phones, which includes Sony Ericsson as a partner, will go on sale in December and its services include mobile television. Three already produces sport and music-themed mobile television shows featuring Irish broadcasters Eamon Dunphy and Tom Dunne.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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