x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Mobiles a new focus for Sony

Sony is pushing its new smartphones as its key device for linking up to its various digital entertainment and media assets. But is it too late for the ailing electronics manufacturer?

Sony says it is shifting gears and pushing smartphones as the centrepiece of its product portfolio as it aims to grab a bigger share of the mobile market amid ailing TV sales and steep losses.

But the consumer electronics manufacturer is up against better-performing rivals such as Apple and Samsung, and next month it will formally undergo a management change when Kazuo Hiraireplaces Howard Stringer as chief executive.

Last month, Sony announced a ¥159 billion (Dh6.99bn) net loss during its third quarter, which ended December 31, and projected another annual loss - for the fourth straight year. Its television division is projected to lose about ¥220bn during its fiscal year, which wraps up at the end of this month.

In a sign that Sony is shifting more of its focus to mobiles, the company also announced last month that it had completed its purchase of Ericsson's stake in a joint venture now known as Sony Mobile Communications.

This arm of the company will push new mobiles, the latest of which is the Xperia S, which debuted in the UAE last week for Dh2,299 (US$625). This smartphone, like others expected to be launched under the Xperia brand this year, is being positioned as a portable hub that can access Sony's digital library of movies and TV shows, games from its PlayStation brand, as well as connect to some of the company's digital cameras, tablets and TV sets.

"We have the strongest proposition in the market, because of the assets we can deliver," said Rudiger Odenbach, the vice president of Sony Mobile Communications' customer unit in the Middle East and Africa, during the launch of the Xperia S.

"In the centre is the smartphone," he added. "Outside is the gaming assets, photo [and] video assets."

Globally, smartphone sales surged 47 per cent, to 149 million units, during the fourth quarter of last year, according to recent data fromthe market research firm Gartner.

Yet some argue that Sony may have moved too slowly.

"Sony is definitely too late into the game," said Thomas Kuruvilla, the managing director in Dubai of Arthur D Little, an international consultancy that specialises in telecommunications. "But there is no other option for them other than doing this."


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