Ericsson expands in Smartphone Valley

iPhoneSilicon Valley’s growing alter ego as Smartphone Valley has been boosted by Ericsson’s announcement today that it is opening a research centre in San Jose.

Its chief technology strategist, the 30-year company veteran Jan Uddenfeldt, will also move from Sweden to the Valley.

The initiative follows Nokia’s December decision to name its first non-Finn chief technology officer – Bob Iannucci – and base him in Palo Alto. The American headed its Nokia Research Center there, opened in 2006.

Apple’s introduction of the iPhone, Palm’s presence, a host of emerging telecoms start-ups and the move of PC applications to mobile phones has made it essential for industry leaders to take a stake in Valley innovation.

Ericsson, whose focus is network infrastructure, acquired the Valley’s Redback Networks and its IP routing technology in 2006 for $1.9bn and paid $1.4bn a year ago for Norway’s Tandberg Television, which has IPTV assets. It also acquired Santa Clara-based broadband equipment maker Entrisphere last year.

Bert Nordberg, Ericsson’s most senior North American executive as chairman of Redback and Entrisphere, moved to San Jose three months ago.

He told me the plan was to open a campus there for all of its acquired companies as well as core Ericsson staff. Its 1,000 employees in the Valley will move in this autumn and the centre has been designed for 1,500.

“We think it’s going to be manned by experts on mobile coming from other companies and within Ericsson, then some acquisitions and new hires,” he said.

“With the [fourth-generation Long Term Evolution] LTE technology coming and speeds of up to 100 megabits a second over the network, anything is possible. The PC-centric world is in North America and that’s why we believe a lot of the future will start here. We will have a base here in the Valley for building an LTE ecosystem.”