Sony bounces back, posts 30% jump in smartphone shipments

Sony swung back to a profit in the second quarter and its Sony Mobile Communications unit reported a 30 percent jump in smartphone shipments in the period, a signal that its efforts to revive its Xperia-branded line are starting to take hold.

On the whole, Sony posted a profit of $35.38 million in the quarter ending June 30, compared to a loss of $248.3 million in the year-ago quarter, as the company benefited from a return to profit at its long-struggling TV unit, a weakening yen and a solid performance at its financial business.

However, like peer LG Electronics, Sony is starting to get more traction in the smartphone market and scale up to better compete with larger rivals, including Chinese vendors Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo, not to mention industry leaders Samsung Electronics and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Sony said it shipped 9.6 million smartphones in the period, up 30 percent from 7.4 million in the year-ago quarter. Interestingly, Sony also said average selling prices of its phones rose, which pushed the mobile division to a profit of $60 million, an improvement from a loss of $28.1 million a year earlier, according to the New York Times. The company reiterated its target of selling 42 million smartphones in the fiscal year to April 1, 2014, up from 33 million units in the previous fiscal year.

Sony has been riding strong sales of its flagship Xperia Z smartphone, which recently went on sale in the United States through T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS). T-Mobile is selling the phone for a $0 down payment plus a $25 monthly payment for 24 months under its Simple Choice plans, or for $600 outright. This quarter Sony will also be touting the Xperia Z Ultra, a 6.4-inch phablet with 1080p resolution, Qualcomm's (NASDAQ:QCOM) 2.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB of RAM and LTE. It's unclear if or when the gadget might come to the U.S. market. 

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has said the company must do more to catch up in the U.S. smartphone market. "We still have a lot of stuff to do here in the market," he said in a meeting with reporters following his appearance at AllThingsD's D11 conference in May. "There is no question about it."

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this NYT article
- see this Reuters article 
- see this IDG News Service article
- see this CNET article

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