Sony: Apple, Samsung won't be the only successful smartphone vendors

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Sony Mobile Communications reiterated its plans to use its prowess in gaming, digital imaging and audio technology to regain its footing in the hotly contested smartphone market.

The struggling vendor introduced three new Xperia-branded smartphones and a tablet, the Xperia Tablet S, at the IFA conference in Berlin last week. In a briefing with reporters in Tokyo, Sony Mobile CEO Kunimasa Suzuki said it was not possible that just Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics could benefit from the booming smartphone market.

Suzuki reiterated themes that Sony executives have stated since the company finalized its $1.47 billion purchase of Ericsson's (NASDAQ:ERIC) 50 percent stake in their decade-old Sony Ericsson joint handset venture. "We're going to promote mobile product development that will use our expertise," he said, according to Bloomberg, without giving specific details. "We are strong in digital imaging and game players and also have audio products."

Sony expects to sell 34 million smartphones this fiscal year, and produce $23 billion in revenue from mobile devices in the year starting April 1, 2014. In the calendar year 2011 Sony Ericsson shipped 34.2 million handsets, though that figure included both smartphones and feature phones, which Sony has stopped selling. According to ABI Research, Sony Mobile was the eleventh-largest handset maker in the world in the second quarter with 2 percent market share.

"If we follow through what we have started, we will be able to achieve a certain target," Suzuki said, without providing specific details. "It's not possible that only two companies will survive in an industry that's grown significantly."

Sony said last month it will cut 15 percent of the workforce of Sony Mobile Communications, or around 1,000 jobs, and will move its global mobile headquarters from Lund, Sweden, to Tokyo.

Suzuki also talked about the company's tablet strategy. The Xperia Tablet S, Sony's first Xperia-branded tablet, runs Android 4.0.3, sports a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-cue processor and offers a 9.4-inch HD display with OptiContrast Panel technology. The gadget will go on sale in the United States for $399 for the 16 GB model on Sept. 7. The price matches that of Samsung's 16 GB GalaxyTab and Apple's older iPad 2."We aren't considering competing on price in tablets," Suzuki said, according to Reuters.

Analysts think Sony can catch up, but the company will need to bring all its resources to bear to have an impact on a market where it badly trails its larger mobile rivals. "Even though Sony has been slow to expand in smartphones, there are still chances to catch up with competitors, given the market has plenty of room for growth," Keita Wakabayashi, an analyst at Mito Securities, told Bloomberg. "Sony needs to use its experience in making a range of popular products such as games and audio players to come up with smartphone models that can attract more customers."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article

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