Sony to be the Apple of Android smartphones, do away with entry-level handsets?

January 12, 2013
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Since companies such as Samsung, LG and Motorola – to name just a few of the Android device makers we expect hot new products this year – decided not to announce any new Android smartphone and/or tablet this past week, Sony had a chance to shine at CES 2013.

The company unveiled its new flagship device, the Xperia Z, and its cheaper alter ego, the Xperia ZL, and these products are expected to hit stores in the coming months, well ahead of every other 2013 flagship handset from Sony’s main competitors.

The Japanese company seems more and more determined to catch up companies and Samsung and Apple that control the mobile business when it comes to marketshare (the former) and profits (the latter), and one way of achieving its goal seems to be moving away from cheap Android devices.

Stephen Sneeden, the company’s Xperia product marketing manager, told CNET Asia that Sony wants to get closer to Samsung and Apple in the following couple of years, with help of its high-end devices:

“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.

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But mid-rangers will not be left out of Sony’s future device portfolio, as they can still be very appealing to potential buyers:

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

The Xperia Z (our hands-on here) proves that Sony wants to offer its Android device buyers a particular smartphone experience by including certain proprietary technologies such as its Mobile Bravia Engine 2 for displays, the Exmor RS technology for cameras or the Battery Stamina feature. After all, in an Android environment where OEMs release basically similar hardware powered by more-or-less the same Android OS experience, such features can become important for consumers.

But such exclusive features may be too expensive to include in entry-level devices, so we can’t really blame Sony for trying a different approach.

Is Sony trying to become the Apple of the Android ecosystem by focusing its efforts on providing devices only to a segment of the potential buyers? Furthermore, will such a strategy work considering that the bulk of purchased Android handsets are not high-end models, especially in developing markets? We’ll certainly keep close tabs on the company and its mobile business in the following years.

On a different note, Sneeden revealed that future Sony handsets will have the power button placed on the side, just like it’s found on the Xperia Z.

Are you buying a Sony smartphone in the following months?

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