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Nancy Ajram powers Sony Ericsson's handset sales in Middle East.

Dubai: Sony Ericsson, the mobile handset manufacturer, has joined the list of companies that rely on celebrity endorsement to boost regional product sales.

The company yesterday launched a special edition of Walkman series model W595i that incorporates the signature of Nancy Ajram, the Lebanese pop singer.

The company has not made a profit since third quarter 2008. It is increasing its efforts in marketing and advertising the brand and its products in the Middle East and North Africa, as it is one of the few growth areas left around the world.

Last month, the company announced a global loss of 187 million euros (Dh894.5 million) for the fourth quarter 2008 and 73 million euros (Dh349 million) loss for the full year.

The economic downturn has caused the company to witness a drop in demand. The units shipped for the fourth quarter were down to 24.2 million from 25.7 million in the quarter before, and at a 21 per cent drop from the year before.

However, it did see a quarter-on-quarter increase in sales revenues of four per cent, at 2.91 billion euros, but this was due to a positive impact of currency fluctuation, the company said.

Hosni Al Assi, general manager for Middle East and North Africa for Sony Ericsson, said at the launch that though there is a lot of uncertainty in the market for the coming months, the company's cost cutting measures and restructuring "will ensure that we can withstand what's happening on the global level."

Meanwhile, the Middle East remains a growth market for the company. Speaking of the celebrity endorsement, Al Assi said that it would boost their leadership in the music and entertainment mobile segment.

"This is already taking effect, we have seen good demand. This will help us to start promoting the Walkman range more heavily and not just this special edition," he said.

Retailing at approximately Dh1,200, the W595i has the capacity to store over 1,900 music tunes, with the support of a 2GB memory card.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 12, 2009
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