Sony CEO acknowledges U.S. mobile challenges, promises Xperia Z launch soon

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said that Sony Mobile Communications still has a lot of challenges ahead of it in terms of breaking into the U.S. market, but he said that the company's flagship Xperia Z smartphone will be launched by a U.S. carrier shortly.

Sony Xperia Z

Xperia Z

"We still have a lot of stuff to do here in the market," Hirai said in a meeting with reporters following his appearance at AllThingsD's D11 conference Thursday, according to AllThingsD. "There is no question about it."

According to ABI Research, Sony Mobile was the No. 8 global handset maker overall in the first quarter. However, its smartphones have not gained traction in the United States, where it mainly sells phones on an unlocked, unsubsidized basis. Earlier this month the company started selling an unlocked HSPA+ variant of the Xperia Z for $630, and the LTE-capable Xperia ZL for $630 as well.

However, Hirai promised that a U.S. carrier deal for the Xperia Z is on the way, and increased marketing should help boost sales. "We will make an announcement about the Xperia Z with a carrier very shortly," he said at the conference, according to The Verge. Sony COO Phil Molyneux said that announcement will be coming within the next few weeks.

Although AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) has historically been Sony's strongest U.S. wireless partner, a variant of the Xperia Z with support for T-Mobile US' (NYSE:TMUS) network recently passed through FCC certification and TMoNews posted photos of the phone with T-Mobile branding.

Sony Mobile said it expects to ship 42 million units in the fiscal year to April 1, 2014, up from 33 million units in the previous fiscal year. "We've really packed the best of Sony into a smartphone," Hirai said to the Xperia Z, which has generally received positive reviews. Hirai said the Xperia Z managed to be the top-selling phone in Japan for six weeks straight in a highly competitive market. "It's literally a feat," he said.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this The Verge article
- see this Engadget article

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