Does Sony need to follow trends for its smartphones to stay relevant?
The phone industry has changed dramatically since the early 2010s. Brands that were non-existent back then now take up all of our attention, while those that were prevalent are barely mentioned these days. Once a leading mobile phone brand, LG had to shut down its smartphone business after years of inflating losses. Likewise, Sony is much less relevant in the smartphone market than it was back in the day when it drew a lot of attention with its standout candy bar phones like the Walkman series. Despite this, Sony is still making smartphones that refute the latest trends. What do you think about this approach?
Earlier this week, Sony announced a bunch of new smartphones. These new devices include the Xperia 1 III and Xperia 5 III — two nearly identical feature-packed flagships varying only in display size and camera specifications, and the Xperia 10 III, a 5G-enabled mid-ranger device. These are among the few premium phones in 2021 that carry thick bezels on both sides of the slim and long display with a 21:9 aspect ratio. All these phones also feature headphone jacks and microSD card slots, both of which are a rarity these days, especially among flagship devices. The Xperia 5 III and the 10 III are also relatively compact phones, with screens measuring 6.1″ and 6.0″.
Besides these aspects, Sony is not competing in the megapixel war and sticking with 12MP cameras, instead. The company is instead prioritizing features like Zeiss lenses and a dedicated camera shutter button for its flagships. While the Japanese giant has yet to announce prices for these devices, we don’t expect them to go easy on consumers considering the previous flagship‘s €1,199 price tag.
Like many other phone brands with a legacy, Sony’s mobile phone unit has struggled to make a profit in the past. Although the company forecast a profit for the mobile phone division for the first time in four years, those plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Q4 2020, Sony sold 1 million smartphones — 24% less than the same quarter of 2019. On the plus side, the company earned the same revenue despite this decline in sales, and that indicates an increase in the average selling price of the phones.
Sony’s endurance in the industry — unlike LG’s — can be credited to its bold decision to carry on with niche features catering to a small segment of the market instead of making a diverse, high-volume product line. Phones like the Xperia PRO portray Sony’s desire to cater to professional creators and do it well instead of appeasing a larger audience and failing at it.
Do you think this strategy serves Sony well and will save it from meeting the same fate as LG? Let us know in the comments below!