I met with an upbeat Pierre Perron at IFA. The president of Sony’ Mobile Communications business unit in Europe gave us a brief overview of where Sony is going when it comes to devices and what broad predictions can be made.
Smartphone sales have increased significantly year on year with 10 million units sold in the first quarter of 2013 with the total annual sales likely to surpass the target of 42 million units set by Sony Corporation, thanks to the likes of the Sony Xperia Z1.
Perhaps more importantly, the unit is generating profit after having been in the red for quite some time. Perron attributed it partly to the fact that being part of a bigger unit rather than a joint-venture means that it is much easier to get things done and swiftly take decisions.
He briefly mentioned that the dissolution of the Sony Ericsson joint venture and the subsequent integration of that unit have gone better than expected and that this helped Sony become the third smartphone player globally behind Apple and Samsung, a position that Sony wants to consolidate and possibly use as a springboard for grander ambitions.
That vision, Perron quipped, has been driven by the company’s willingness to stop making concessions. He pointed to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play to illustrate its point. It was a bold attempt to break into the market but ultimately failed because of a number of compromises (size, battery life, control, display etc).
Sony is now focused on delivering the best-in-breed for each category; the Sony Xperia Z1 as the best smartphone, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra for the “smartphone with a big screen” one and the Sony Xperia Z when it comes to tablets. The company is also busy adding more mainstream and entry level models to hit all the important price brackets although Sony has no recent sub-£100 smartphones, a segment where it seems, it is reluctant to compete.
Speaking of competition, Perron hinted that Sony is not particularly keen to compete on price and release an affordable tablet. For a foreseeable future therefore, Sony will stick to the Xperia Z tablet although we suspect that a refresh with the faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 is not far away.
In addition, Perron did confirm that Sony will listen to the market and while it is currently enjoying a fairly good spell with Google’s Android, it won’t rule out using other operating systems if it fits its plans.
Add to that the fact that Sony is working on bringing an even more integrated user environment (Sony Unlimited, PS4) and all this paints a rather rosy picture for Sony Mobile.