If Sony Can't Beat Apple And Samsung, It's Logically Going To Try And Join Them? (Opinion)

By Jimmie Geddes email: j.geddes@mobilenapps.com | Jan 14, 2013 12:13 PM EST

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When you can't beat them, join them. This is what Sony is claiming it is doing in its never-ending, restructuring smartphone business. The company is now claiming that it plans to abandon the entry-level smartphone market so it can compete better with Apple and Samsung.

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Sony has had a long history of desperately trying to make a name for itself in the smartphone world. It's a great time to take a look back at how many times Sony has changed its smartphone game in an attempt to become a major player in the smartphone market.

Sony began its entry into the smartphone world with smartphones running on the Symbian OS with smartphones like the Sony Ericsson P910 in 2004. The P910 was a full touchscreen smartphone and also featured a QWERTY keyboard on the inside of its flip (Sony was trying to incorporate the popular flip style found on feature phones). The device never took off and Sony went on to release more Symbian-based smartphones but never saw any success with the smartphones or the platform.

In 2008 at Mobile World Congress Sony announced that it would begin selling its first Windows Mobile smartphone, Windows Mobile was the leading smartphone OS at the time. It made sense, as Sony never saw success with Symbian and Sony does not like to easily give up on a market. It wowed Mobile World Congress when it announced and showed off its XPERIA X1. It was a high-end smartphone that featured an arc slider keyboard. It was an impressive design and Sony offered some nice tweaks to the Windows Mobile interface. The smartphone was actually built by HTC for Sony. Unfortunately, Sony would face the same kind of results with Windows Mobile as it did with Symbian.

In 2009 Sony was at it again when it announced another high-end XPERIA smartphone, the Xperia X10. This time Sony not only changed the naming convention from all caps that it had used for Windows Mobile but it was Sony's first Android based smartphone. Just like Sony did with Windows Mobile, it added some unique tweaks to Android, and just like Symbian and Windows Mobile, Sony hasn't seen much success from sales of its Android smartphones.

Sony would go on to release Xperia Android smartphones from low-end to high-end and they all produced the same result - low sales. So what would be the logical next step in Sony's ongoing attempt to make it in the smartphone world? Announce that it is going to abandon entry-level smartphones so it can better compete with Apple and Samsung? Stephen Sneeden, the Xperia product marketing manager, did just that. Sneeden recently spoke to CNET and this is what CNET reported:

"We're ready to be a premium smartphone provider, logically then, at the very entry level is where you lose the 'Sonyness'. And it's where you cannot implement some of these wonderful things from Sony at such a low cost, we might leave the very entry tier to some other manufacturers," Sneeden said.

He added, however, that Sony is continually evaluating the different markets, and said that the "mid- to premium tier is the more likely scenario" as features from flagship devices would likely trickle down to its midrange products.

"Maybe it's not the flagship product, but I can still aspire to this other phone that has a number of these same characteristics."

Sneeden followed up by saying that the company "cannot compromise on the experience that the company is trying to show to the customer", and added that even if it's a product with a lower price point, it still must have a "story to resonate".

Something tells me that the reason Sony isn't selling smartphones on the level of Apple and Samsung is not going to be remedied by abandoning the entry-level market. Sony only needs to look to its past to see that even when it offered high-end smartphones running Symbian and Windows Mobile it had the same results. It might be a good idea to look in another possible area if it doesn't want to keep repeating its past lack of success in the future. Just a thought...

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