Flint steps down from Sony Ericsson

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The Independent Online

Miles Flint, the president of Sony Ericsson, has stepped down to take a career break despite the mobile phone manufacturer recently embarking on a strategy to bulk up its presence in high-growth emerging markets.

Mr Flint, 54, is well regarded within the mobile phone industry after leading the transformation of Sony Ericsson from a niche player into the fourth-largest manufacturer in the world. Since taking over the company in 2004, Mr Flint has revived Sony's "Walkman" brand to promote the company's music phones and introduced the "Cybershot" brand for its camera phones.

Mr Flint's decision to depart the company at a crucial stage in its development surprised analysts who described his exit as a blow. However the move appears to be motivated by personal reasons. The Sony veteran, who has spent 17 years at the electronics giant and its mobile phone joint venture, said that he wished to take a "short career break".

He will be replaced by Hideki "Dick" Komiyama, currently head of Sony Electronics USA, who has improved the Japanese company's position in the television and computer markets in the US. Mr Komiyama will lead the company through the next stage in its development as it targets the high-end "smart phone" market while also looking for growth in emerging markets like India, a strategic shift most had expected Mr Flint to lead. Mr Flint will stay on at the company until the end of the year.

Ben Wood, a research director with CSS Insight, said Mr Flint "had a hell of a run", adding that he had the vision to defy the sceptics when resurrecting the "Walkman" brand. Mr Wood saidhe had also proved to be a "fantastic diplomat", balancing the interests of two very different parent companies, Sony and Ericsson. Mr Wood said it was a surprise that Mr Flint had departed so soon after he had engineered a deal to outsource low-end handset manufacturing to Sagem as well as the acquisition of the operating platform UIQ.