Sony stays on track with new smartphones

On day one of the 2012 Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin, also known as IFA, Sony made some key announcements at its press conference which further the goal of Sony chief executive Kazuo Hirai to provide consumers with a unified content services experience across Sony’s new range of devices.
 
Sony Mobile has struggled in recent quarters with declining revenue and shipments and is still undergoing radical change with its recent decision to move its headquarters from Sweden to Japan, and to lay off 15% of its workforce. Despite this, Sony has pursued a rapid expansion of smartphones in its Xperia range, announcing three new handsets – the T, V and J – at IFA 2012.
 
These devices, coming soon after the launch of the Xperia U, P and S, include features such as Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and waterproofing, while the Xperia V also has LTE connectivity. The new devices look fairly similar to the recently-released Xperia devices, with most of the updated features inside the handsets themselves. This may have a negative impact on sales of the devices as sales channels struggle to decide which devices to focus on and promote to consumers.
 
Sony also announced a promotional offer of a free 60-day trial to its music catalog, followed by a monthly subscription fee of €4.99. The music can be accessed on a computer, or a Sony phone or tablet. However, it’s likely that Sony would be more successful if it offered a similar service for its movies catalog.
 
In some ways, Sony’s content is more important than the handset itself. With falling sales in CDs and DVDs, Sony has an opportunity to stem this decline with subscriptions to its content.
 
During the press conference, there were times when Kazuo Hirai seemed unsure of his next line. There is no such uncertainty with where Sony is heading, however, and judging by the launch of its new devices and integration of content services, it is clear that Sony Mobile is moving in the right direction.
 
Julian Jest is a research analyst for smartphones and tablets at Informa Telecoms and Media. For more information visit www.informatandm.com/

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