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Sony aims to win in mobile market

08 October 2013, 15:49Duncan Alfreds

Cape Town - It's important for Sony Mobile to win in the premium and value category of mobile devices, the company said.

"In the mobile phone industry, we see two things: Value and volume. As Sony the whole idea is we want to be one of the top manufacturers in the world in the coming few years," Mansoor Ahmed, Sony Mobile product marketing manager for Middle East and Africa, said.

"That cannot be achieved on affordable handsets and neither can it be achieved on its own on premium handsets. There has to be a blend and mix of both," he added.

The company has been driving its Xperia range since the withdrawal of Ericsson, but the dominance of Samsung and Apple in the premium smartphone market has been a challenge for smaller manufacturers.

While Samsung has managed to become the world's biggest mobile manufacturer by having devices at various price points and markets, Apple has taken another approach: It markets premium devices to an aspirational market.


Sony said that this was a risky strategy.

"If we stick to either one of them, we end up at one end of the spectrum. You either become very cheap - like you see some third party manufacturers and people don't buy them because 'Oh I don't want a cheap brand'.

"And then you have people who have very high-end very expensive unique phone, like the Vertu for example. And there's a niche market for them," said Ahmed.

Research from Gartner showed that Samsung leads mobile phone manufacturers with a 31.7% share, increasing from 29.7% a year ago, while Apple was at 14.2% closely matching its OS market share, though there were strong sales of the now discounted iPhone 4.

Apple App Store

In third place is LG which has been trying to catch up with South Korean rival Samsung at 5.1%, but it represents a significant increase from 3.8% last year.

Sony has launched its Xperia Z1 in SA and it is expected to go on sale within weeks, though the price is unclear.

The previous generation had a recommended retail price of R7 999 and it is expected that the Z1 will be offered at a similar price point.

Wide demographic

The company also has a cheaper range of devices that may appeal to price sensitive consumers.

Manufacturers like Huawei have been effective in delivering devices like its Ascend P6 at a much lower price than premium-marketed rivals.

"There are manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, Apple who make premium devices for the masses, which are perhaps not very affordable, but still some people can get them with subsidisation - it's a mix of everyone," said Ahmed.

One of the keys for Sony could be the expansion of the Sony Entertainment Network to countries like SA. The platform allows for the consumption of digital content from the Sony ecosystem.

However, high data costs and low bandwidth in SA could make the launch of such a platform cost-prohibitive for consumers.

Ahmed argued that in order for a manufacturer to be successful, it had to appeal to a wide demographic.

"In every market you have price sensitive consumers, premium consumers and of course the middle class and you have to have a product with different products with different price segments with different propositions."

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