x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Sony launches Xperia Z2 as it hopes to climb smartphone leader board

The struggling Japanese technology manufacturer recently sold off its Vaio laptop business to focus more on the mobile market. It is now launching a new flagship phone every six months to keep up with new technologies.

The Sony Xperia Z2, priced at Dh2,649, will be available in April. Pawan Singh / The National
The Sony Xperia Z2, priced at Dh2,649, will be available in April. Pawan Singh / The National

Sony last night launched its new flagship phone, hoping it will enable the company to become the No 3 smartphone retailer in the region, over taking BlackBerry in the process.

The Sony Xperia Z2 is a waterproof, 5.2 inch phone priced at Dh2,649, and it will be available next month.

It is intended to compete directly with Samsung’s Galaxy S5 when it hits the market and Apple’s iPhone 5S. This week the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said that the iPhone 5 was the UAE’s most popular smartphone in terms of sales, with the Samsung S3 following closely behind.

“This is going to be a transformational year. Just to give you an idea of what lies ahead, Sony is looking for its mobile business to achieve global sales of ¥1.5 trillion [Dh54 billion],” said Spyros Gousetis, the director of marketing at Sony Mobile Middle East and Africa. “In terms of market size, Saudi Arabia leads and is followed very closely by the UAE and Iraq.”

The struggling Japanese technology manufacturer recently sold off its Vaio laptop business, cutting 5,000 jobs to focus more on the mobile market. It is now launching a new flagship phone every six months to keep up with new technologies amid the expectation of US$1.08bn loss this year.

Its higher-end models have been selling better in this region compared to its mid-range and entry level products.

“Premium pricing is not a deterrent to sales given the demographics here,” said Mr Gousetis.

Alongside the smartphone, Sony is also launching its SmartBand wristband, the Xperia Z2 tablet and a couple of mid-range smartphones. Last year Sony Mobile doubled its marketing budget to become one of the top three mobile manufacturers in the world.

Samsung maintains its hold on the smartphone market with a 32.7 per cent share in the first quarter of this year followed by Apple with a 17.3 per cent share, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).

“The last two years have seen a phenomenal growth in our product portfolio and our market reach. It isn’t just about increasing our marketing budget – we have invested heavily in market research and retail feedback to ensure our marketing is targeted,” said Mr Gousetis.

According to data from IDC, Sony’s growth in the region has more than doubled to reach a 3 per cent share of the overall smartphone market.

“They have a good growth prospect as they introduce devices with their proprietary Walkman and music store built in, [and] the camera was voted best among the top phones in the market” said Zeeshan Gaya, a research manger at IDC Middle East and Africa.

“Sony has been building devices to cater to the emerging market with mid-range price points. This will increase their popularity, but they still need to get into the low tier of the market to compete with $100 smartphones.”

thamid@thenational.ae

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