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Sony wants Ericsson's half of their mobile biz

Firm fancies fighting Apple and Samsung all on its own

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Sony Corp is in talks with Ericsson to buy out its stake in their 50/50 mobile phone joint venture Sony Ericsson.

The ubiquitous "people familiar with the matter" have been busy chatting to both the Wall Street Journal and Reuters about how Sony would like to bring the 10-year pact to an end so that it can integrate smartphones into its fondleslab, handheld game devices and PC businesses to save money and synchronise development.

Right now, tablets are Sony and phones are Sony Ericsson, which is the sort of thing the company would like to get rid of so it can better compete with current mobile device leaders Apple and Samsung.

Yoshiharu Izumi, an analyst at JP Morgan in Tokyo, told Reuters that a deal for Ericsson's half of the venture could be worth $1.3bn or more, depending on how they sorted out the use of Ericsson's patents.

"Up to now Sony's products and network services have all been separate. Unifying them would be positive," Izumi said. "If they can leverage their games and other network services I think they can lift their share."

Sony Ericsson did well in the smartphone market when cameras and music players were the differentiators, but like many original phone-makers, their market share fell considerably when Apple introduced the Jesus-mobe.

Ericsson said it was not its corporate policy "to comment on rumours", while Sony had not responded to requests for comment at time of publication. ®

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