It didn’t take long to figure out what I should write about today. While poking around mobile tech news, just about every website talked about how poorly Sony was doing in the smartphone department. I mean, we’re talking upwards of quadruple losses here just in their smartphone lineup. It’s not good. What’s puzzling about this is that Sony’s Xperia line of smartphones, which run on the Android OS, isn’t anything to sneeze at when it comes to both hardware and software. Sure, it’s a little strange that both the Z2 and the Z3 were released within the same year, but both phones are actually quite good when placed side-by-side to competing flagships.
If you live in the United States, you probably only get to hear of the Xperia Z line’s splendor. Availability has been slim to none here for any Sony smartphones, flagship or not.
But the flagships don’t seem to be the issue for Sony, as it turns out. The real problems stem from Sony’s low-to-mid range line of devices, which now come with a lot of pressure from other manufacturers to not only perform well, but to be accompanied by a cheap price tag. If executed correctly, low-to-mid range Android smartphones can do very well - just look at the Moto G, for example. However, if done incorrectly, you could end up with a situation like Sony’s on your hands. How exactly is the wrong way to go about it? By releasing too many at a price point that’s too high to be considered competitive anymore.
I’ll be honest, aside from Sony’s Xperia Z line I have not really been paying attention to the plethora of these lower and mid-range smartphones that Sony has been releasing over the course of a year. We here in the States don’t really have Sony’s smartphones at our disposal anymore, and if it’s not available to me then there’s not much I can say about them. I can’t review them, and I can’t even tinker with them in stores. Although I realize that the United States and Canada are not the biggest markets for smartphones in the world, I do feel that North America has a significant impact on the market in some ways. I have felt for quite some time that Sony’s practically non-existent presence here in the U.S. is kind of a bummer. The phones intrigue me, but the closest I get to experiencing them are reviews by other people. They might as well be reviewing unicorns because I won’t be getting one either way. If the Sony Xperia Z3, or even the Z2, were a feasible option around here, I would definitely consider Sony when looking for my next upgrade.
There’s also a pretty decent push towards mid-range smartphones now here in the States. Sony seems to want to take away the release of so many mid-range smartphones, which I think is a good plan. As we’ve seen with HTC in the past, if you release too many smartphones the demand is going to be hard to keep up with in regards to keeping the phones properly upgraded software-wise. As a result, people feel like they’re not being taken care of by the company, and no longer want to buy those phones. But aside from that, I also think Sony could make a good impression by really making itself known to consumers in the U.S. and Canada. There’s a good market here for both mid-range and high-end smartphones. The only two problems standing in Sony’s way are proper pricing and open availability.
If Sony were to reconsider re-entering the North American market, I want to see these smartphones available on more than just one carrier. The Sony Xperia Z1 was only available on T-Mobile. If you want to make a lasting impression here, you’re going to have to make your products available across the board. This carrier exclusive business is an outdated and silly model. This isn’t 2007, and no matter how “innovative” any smartphone is anymore, no matter how powerful the specs are, nobody is going to have the same exclusive success that Apple had with the first few generations of iPhones. You know it’s not a feasible model anymore when Apple themselves had to branch out to other carriers. You simply can’t be superficial about the release anymore; simply “being here” does not guarantee success.
I think Sony can dig itself out of this hole, and I don’t think the way to go about it is too hard. I think Sony’s first step is to cut back on the amount of lower-end and mid-range smartphones first and foremost, but I really do think that Sony could also do itself a favor by re-entering the North American market.