Sony to drop premium mid-range handsets to focus on the top and middle of the market
At its annual Investor Day gathering yesterday, Sony made it clear that it will be producing only flagship and mid-range models like the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and Sony Xperia XZs at the high-end and the Sony Xperia XA1 and Sony XA1 Ultra in the mid-range market. To differentiate its Xperia products from other companies' handsets, it wants to ship technology "that only Sony can deliver." Among those features are the "Motion-eye camera system with 960 fps super-slow-motion. And there is the 4K HDR display on the Xperia XZ Premium, the first smartphone so equipped. This will include streaming and downloaded 4K HDR content from Amazon Prime Video.
Sony still has designs in North America, but realizes that it will have to spend big bucks on marketing. By spending on getting its name out there, it hopes to create a strong partnership with stateside carriers. The lack of such a connection has really hurt Sony's handset sales in the U.S.
During Investor Day, Sony used slides to show off its future business model. The company hopes to see its new handsets take up a larger percentage of overall phone sales. To do this, Sony plans on having a quick clearance of previous models in order to clear out older inventory.
Will this strategy finally see Sony make a name for itself in the smartphone market? On specs alone, when the Sony Xperia XZ Premium launches next month, it should be in the conversation when discussing the top Android handsets for 2017. Yet, the average consumer in the U.S. is probably not even aware of this upcoming device. Hopefully, Sony will follow its game plan and put some serious money into marketing. But Sony needs more than that. It needs to have a strong carrier partner in the U.S. that is willing to commit to its devices. If that happens, Sony might have a shot of pulling its smartphone business out of the hole it has perpetually been in.