The two biggest mobile phone retailers in the UK, Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U, have suspended sales of Sony Ericsson's leading Saito phone after an unusually high number of customers returned their mobile devices to the stores with complaints of software glitches. One of the biggest problems consumers had was the fact that the device would power itself down when people tried to access certain applications. This specific issue deals with a software problem which doesn't allow it to be fixed with an over-the-air-patch. According to Sony Ericsson, a "fairly low" number of phones have been returned in comparison to the amount of phones sold.
Senior Marketing Manager of Sony Ericsson Richard Dorman expects the company to have all the problems fixed by Christmas. He went on to say that despite the number of returned devices, the company will not suspend their high-profile marketing campaign that features people using the device's 12 megapixel camera to take pictures on spacehoppers. This decision by the two independent retailers to cease sales of the phone is a serious blow to to Sony Ericsson, especially with the holiday season and Black Friday coming up.
"This is the last thing Sony Ericsson needs right now. It's a disaster." said CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood. Wood also made a point to say that the company, which is Japanese-Swedish based, has struggled with quality issues in the past and that software problems are becoming more common for mobile phone makers that are under immense pressure to produce complex handsets in an effort to remain competitive. However, the Saito isn't the only mobile to suffer from problems after launch. The original BlackBerry Storm and the Nokia N97 both suffered from some problems at launch as well.
These software glitches come as sad news for the company mainly because the Saito had been selling well due to a large customer attraction to the device's high quality camera. "Sales of the product have been very strong and we expect them to remain strong once the problem has been fixed." stated Dorman who went on to say that the phone will still be available from it's mobile phone partners Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile. Both Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U agreed to offer customers exchanging their faulty Saito a new phone. A speaker for Carphone Warehouse stated, "From time to time we experience issues with new handsets, and their software, which may result in a customer experience that is below our usually high standards." Both Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U say they will work closely with Sony Ericsson to do all they can to fix the problems and restock the handset as soon as possible.
Over the last year and a half, Sony Ericsson has struggled. They have since reported a 199 million EUR loss in the third quarter and its market share has dwindled to around 5%. In addition to this, 2,000 job cuts have been reported on top of 2,000 job losses from last year. With the launch of the X10 next year, Sony Ericsson hopes to return to profitability. The X10 will be Sony Ericsson's first handset based on Google's Android operating system.