Does Sony have future as a smartphone maker?

Does Sony have future as a smartphone maker?

These are not good times for Sony. The once-proud Japanese electronics maker is struggling in pretty much all markets it used to rule, from TVs to portable music players (Walkman), Sony is facing competition from the likes of Samsung, LG, Sharp and Apple. Sony’s phones are also on the list of “affected products” so we’re wondering – maybe it’s better for them to stop making them. Sure smartphones still brings substantial margins, but at the moment it’s only Samsung and Apple which are making decent cash from selling them. Even HTC is having a hard time these days.

Few cores behind

The problem is that Sony (and Sony Ericsson for that matter) failed to impress us for the last couple of years. Some of its phones look sexy — especially the Xperia arc and Xperia arc S — but at the time the latter was introduced, Sammy’s Galaxy S II was also available – and it was a much better option, boasting a dual-core CPU (versus Xperia arc S’ single-core processor).

Then at this year’s Mobile World Congress we’ve seen two low-to-mid end Xperia phones, none of which “made us wow.” While the rest of industry was talking about quad-core processors (HTC especially), Sony was stuck to its “dual-core plans.” What gives?

And let’s not forget, the market for low-to-mid end smartphones is getting even more competitive, with Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei investing millions (or billions) to grow their respective market shares. Heck, Huawei wants a piece of the high-end market, as well.

Sony is not Apple

Apple is one of very few companies that can charge such a premium for its products. It’s not just the brand they’re selling – it’s the complete experience powered by their own operating system. And no matter how cool Sony’s UI is, it’s still Android under the hood and that’s something other handset makers are offering, too — I’m an Android fan so I’m not bashing Google’s OS here.

Faster time to market

Sony announced the Xperia ion at this year’s CES in Las Vegas and the device is still not widely available. One would think Sony knows how to distribute products, but something’s seriously wrong here. When we first saw the Ion, we were amazed – today, when we can actually buy one, we’ll rather opt for the HTC One X or Samsung Galaxy S III.

New flagship device

As I’m writing this, Sony is pretty much at the cross-road – if they fail to impress us one more time, they’re gone. No one or at least not that many people will want their phones. At this point many people think “why experiment with Sony when I’m safe with Samsung.” Experiment with Sony??? We’re living in a very different world today.

We do hope the Japanese giant will show off something spectacular at the upcoming event in Berlin. Moreover, that product must be available shortly after announcement. If that doesn’t happen – Sony can always return to movies, which make them more money anyway. Plus, let’s not forget professional cameras, but that’s another story…

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