Sony Mobile's president says focus could shift from hardware to software

Sony Mobile's president says focus could shift from hardware to software
The president of Sony Mobile, Hiroki Totoki, says that his division needs to fatten up its profit margins. "The business can’t be justified if the profit margin is low," the executive noted. This comment comes amid talk that Sony is looking to spin off or sell the mobile unit. With only 3% of the global smartphone market, it might be hard for Sony to justify the continued existence of the Xperia handheld line.

Totoki replaced the division's former chief, Kunimasa Suzuki, last November. He says that even if hardware sales are low, he would like to keep Sony involved in mobile by developing innovative software. He cites Instagram and messaging app Line as examples of two innovative apps that have changed mobile communications for the better. "Communication used to be mainly over voice but now people use photos and stickers. We won’t tie ourselves only to smartphones or even hardware," Totoki said.

For a brief period of time, Sony was introducing a new flagship smartphone every six months in order to make sure that its devices could compete on specs. But Sony is no longer working on this schedule. Yesterday at MWC, it unveiled a mid-range waterproof handset called the Sony Xperia M4 Aqua. It also introduced a high-end tablet, the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet.

The last flagship handset unveiled by Sony was the Sony Xperia Z3 which was unwrapped last September, almost precisely six months ago. While that  period of time between Xperia Z models used to call for a new flagship phone, Sony Mobile's leader is working from a new playbook. "What we have learned from our long experience in the consumer electronics business is that consumers want details that you can’t deliver by just simply assembling powerful parts," Totoki said.

Two trouble spots for Sony Mobile are China and the U.S. Both countries are huge smartphone buyers. In China, Sony is cutting back operations after having trouble competing with low price manufacturers like Xiaomi. In the U.S., the manufacturer is unable to compete against companies like Apple and Samsung. Both have huge marketing budgets. In addition, Sony cannot seem to gain traction with all four major carriers in the states. Carrier branded models account for the lion's share of smartphone sales in the country.

source: WSJ

Related phones

Xperia M4 Aqua
  • Display 5.0" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 13 MP / 5 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 615, Octa-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2400 mAh(13.28h 3G talk time)



1. buccob

Posts: 2963; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

That would be very wise.. And it is something that they should be doing some years ago already

6. MyPhoneIsBetterThanYours

Posts: 60; Member since: Feb 22, 2015

They first need to give the hardware a full shot. I have never seen one commercial for a Sony mobile phone. HTC, LG, and Samsung all have flagships that most consumers can recall due to their heavy marketing and promotion.

2. kurama.

Posts: 85; Member since: Sep 13, 2014

Make some good games

3. kabiluddin

Posts: 275; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

All the best Sony.

4. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

They should also support Project Ara with camera modules as you Sony loyalists seem to think their phone cameras are the best. (I have no hands on experience with their line of smartphones so I cannot comment one way or the other)

5. ryq24

Posts: 875; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

This kind of news make people re think about buying Sony phones.

7. frankg

Posts: 173; Member since: May 14, 2014

The should focus on hardware. Google is already providing the software.

18. buccob

Posts: 2963; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Making a great skin is almost as important as providing great hardware... I rather have a skin android than stock to be honest... Skinned Xperia gives me a lot of useful features, the bloat can be uninstalled, and it is as easy to use as stock

8. UglyFrank

Posts: 2193; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

I really respect Sony, it would be a shame to see them go. Their current lineup is so consistent, from the low end, mid end and up to high end. They all have great battery.

16. SamWaltham unregistered

I agree with you!

9. jpvala

Posts: 26; Member since: Oct 07, 2013

I have always liked Sony's hardware but software wise it's a bit let down compare to Samsung, LG and HTC. So I think its a wise move from Sony, Good luck.

10. RobinD

Posts: 16; Member since: Dec 01, 2014

They've got nothing to do on the software stuff. Work on the hardware Sony.

11. Jason78

Posts: 281; Member since: Apr 10, 2013

Sony makes great hardware let down by poor software. Their solution is to focus on software? Doesn't make sense. How about ditching the poor android skin and selling your great hardware with stock android. There is a reason that the majority of the people want the nest Nexus phone to be a Sony.

12. vuyonc

Posts: 1089; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

"What we have learned from our long experience in the consumer electronics business is that consumers want details that you can’t deliver by just simply assembling powerful parts" Good. They should focus on improving UI functionality, shaking off Google's grip on Lollipop for a more unique design (Material Design appears monotonous), more aggressive marketing, strategic price cuts to undercut new phones, unifying kernels for custom ROMs, get the ball rolling with their new Theme Creator dev tool and getting their recent phones to Lollipop with absolute stability. The Xperia Z4 in September will be well done rather than medium rare in both the hardware and software experience. IMX230 with mature post-processing, Qualcomm's Sense ID fingerprint sensor tech, epic battery life and no overheating issues would be appreciated! My Xperia Z1 still serves me well in a stagnating market and the M4 Aqua and Z4 Tablet can hold their own.

13. ilani

Posts: 90; Member since: Dec 23, 2011

Are you beeping kidding us? your awkward software is whats been keeping people AWAY from your phones. Sony's phones are beautiful without a doubt, a Google play edition of the Z3 would have proved it. Do it, Z4 google play edition, and see what happens.

14. theguy2345

Posts: 1216; Member since: Jun 24, 2014

Sony should focus on hardware. As much as I love Sony, their software has never been their forte. It has always been their amazing hardware. This is just a bad strategy.

15. mrochester

Posts: 978; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Welcome to 2007, Mr President.

17. medicci37

Posts: 1361; Member since: Nov 19, 2011

If they really want to compete Sony needs to focus on both!

19. Venkatramanan

Posts: 327; Member since: Aug 15, 2014

I am happy that now they have realized their weakness. I have been telling the same thing in my comments in many articles. Revamping their Camera SA mode is must and urgent thing they need to do and the camera update should be released for all 2013 / 2014 Xperia's irrespective of the price range.

20. mochachino

Posts: 20; Member since: Feb 18, 2015

If they want the best software, just use stock android and make the camera amazing. I will buy Sony phones exclusively if they do that.

21. NopeNein

Posts: 147; Member since: Feb 04, 2015

Sony, Is The New Apple. And Apple Is The New Sony.

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