Sony Ericsson U.S. head leaves the company

Sony Ericsson, facing crippling competition, a faltering economy and rumors that the joint venture is soon to dissolve, announced that the head of its North American business is leaving the company.

Najmi Jarwala, president of Sony Ericsson U.S.A. and head of the North American region, plans to pursue other career opportunities at the end of this month, the company said on Monday. He's been with the company for three years. Starting April 1, Anders Runevad, executive vice president of Sony Ericsson and head of global sales and marketing, will take on Jarwala's responsibilities until a successor is named.

Jarwala's departure follows the announcement of another senior executive's exit. Mats Lindoff, who has been Sony Ericsson's CTO for six years, will also leave the company at the end of this month.

The executive changes come as Sony Ericsson struggles to keep pace in the competitive mobile-phone market. On Friday, the company warned that it will sell only 14 million phones during the first quarter of 2009, down 8.3 million phones compared to the same period last year. Its Xperia phone, a touch-screen device that was hyped as an iPhone competitor and went on sale late last year, does not appear to be boosting sales for the company.

In the fourth quarter, Sony Ericsson lost over a percentage point of market share, dropping from 9 percent share in the fourth quarter of 2007 to 7.5 percent market share in the same quarter last year, according to research from Gartner.

Amid these challenges are rumors that Ericsson would like to exit the joint venture, leaving the company to be wholly owned by Sony. On Friday when Sony Ericsson announced its profit warning, Ericsson said that it is committed to the joint venture. A Sony spokesman on Friday declined to comment on the reports.

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