Sony Ericsson today announced a deal to distribute unlocked handsets in the United States through Ingram Micro. Ingram specializes in technology distribution and supply-chain services, and counts, Best Buy, and among its retail distribution partners. The deal will kick in later this month and include U.S. distribution of SE’s newest smartphone, the Xperia arc S.

SE, who’s already announced that they’re dropping the “Ericsson” to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony, is apparently looking beyond the carrier model to boost sales of their Android-based smartphones. Neither the Xperia X10 nor the Xperia Play have captured much marketshare or mindshare amongst AT&T or Verizon Wireless customers, though the company’s more recent “Xperia Arc” series of smartphones has received some critical acclaim of late. Given the current interest in contract-free/prepaid wireless plans in the U.S., Sony could make a play advertise its devices alongside compatible contract-free plans via Ingram’s distributors. Or, this could be a cost-cutting move designed to reduce the ailing giant’s operating costs by reducing the need to work directly with carriers.

Whatever the reasons, it’ll be interesting to see how much Sony puts behind the U.S. smartphone market going forward. Given the company’s ties to the Google TV platform and the recent launch of their P and S Android tablets, they certainly have an active interest in Android’s success. But the smartphone market is a fiercely competitive one, and the salad days of Sony Ericsson’s Walkman and CyberShot phones are long gone.

What say you: Are Sony Ericsson smartphones primed for a comeback in the US next year under the Sony name? Or is it too late for Xperia?