Sony was once an electronics giant. Combining innovation with quality enabled it to dominate the premium end of the market. In recent years, this worldwide conglomerate has had to look beyond electronics to find profit through its entertainment and financial services divisions. The electronics business has fallen on hard times, but there are green shoots of recovery.
A restructuring of the mobile business, dropping the joint Ericsson branding was a good start. Releasing a truly impressive Xperia Z line, encompassing cutting edge smartphones, and possibly the best Android tablet to date, has built a new, richly-deserved confidence in the brand, and the PS4 will land in many living rooms this Christmas. Could this sleeping giant be stirring?
The company that would become Sony was founded in the aftermath of World War II. Engineer Masaru Ibuka and physicist Akio Morita pooled resources and opened a small electronics shop in Tokyo in 1946. It was called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo K.K. (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation) and it was envisioned as a place where engineers could be free to show off their skills in a supportive and fair environment, in contrast to the conditions that many had been forced to work in during the war.
They began to research and manufacture various products including a power megaphone, magnetite-coated, paper-based recording tapes, and a magnetic tape recorder called the G-Type. An important deal with Bell Labs saw the new company licensing transistor technology and a line of commercial transistor radios soon followed, starting with the TR-55 in 1955, which was also the first product to carry the Sony brand. The name was chosen as a mix of Sonus (Latin for sound) and Sonny (based on the American “sonny boy” phrase, which had come to mean young and spirited in Japan). It would become the official company name in 1958.
There was boundless ambition within Sony and a belief that it could produce better electronics than its competitors. A commitment to scientific research would soon yield more successes as transistor radios gave way to television. In 1960, Sony established itself in the U.S. and constructed a huge new factory in Japan. It also produced the world’s first portable television, the TV8-301. Ibuka’s feeling was that “The days of radio are over. The future lies in television.”
Sony continued to improve the technology it developed. There were more tape recorders, smaller televisions, and then in 1965 a color TV, the first open-reel VTR (video tape recorder), and the first all-silicon transistor stereo amplifier. In 1968 the first Trinitron color TV, the KV-1310 launched what would become a very successful line.
The number and pace of the innovations coming out of Sony was astounding and it continued into the 70’s. There was the color video cassette player in 1971 and the Betamax VCR in 1975. The Walkman brought portable music to the masses in 1979. Even during the recession of the 1980s Sony produced the first CD player in 1982 and then the 8mm camcorder in 1985.
The amazing boom in the Japanese economy went bust in the 1990s and it’s sometimes referred to as the Lost Decade. Other companies in the region, most notably in South Korea, began to eat into Sony’s market share. This difficult period coincided with the rise of the mobile phone. Sony was too slow to pull the trigger on new products and it missed the chance to capitalize on the Walkman brand with an MP3 player, despite developing a prototype before Apple launched the iPod.
Sony’s impact in the mobile market was disappointing. It backed the wrong technology and it failed to act on internal suggestions that adding mobile phone functionality to its PDA product would be a good idea. Sony could have started working on smartphones back in 2000, but the opportunity was missed.
Along with Motorola and Nokia, Ericsson was a true mobile pioneer. The Swedish company had started out repairing telegraph equipment in 1876 and its credentials as a telecommunications giant could not have been stronger. With less than 1 percent of the mobile market, Sony felt a partnership would be beneficial. Ericsson’s understanding of the mobile market would mesh with Sony’s innovative hardware and the two would push mobile phones to new heights.
It didn’t really work out that way. When the joint venture started Ericsson was in the process of shedding jobs, and its share price was tumbling. The wider telecommunications industry was suffering too. The first fruit of the Sony Ericsson partnership was the Sony Ericsson T68i in 2002, a feature-packed candy bar phone with a color screen. A steady stream of devices followed and Sony gradually made its influence felt with phones like the T610 in 2003, which was one of the first phones with a built-in camera.
In 2005 the K750i launched with a 2MP camera and an MP3 player, and the W800i brought the Walkman brand to mobile phones in the same year. Sony Ericsson engaged in a camera war with Nokia. Sony’s Cyber-shot digital camera branding was carried over on devices like the 2006 K800i, which boasted a 3.2MP camera with a Xenon flash. In 2007 the K850i made it to 5MP, but the company was heading in the wrong direction. Proprietary memory sticks and high prices didn’t help, and the iPhone was about change the market. After 2007 Sony Ericsson plummeted into the red.
The company had built a 9% market share, but in 2008 it fell to 7.5% and Sony Ericsson was overtaken by LG in the charts. Worse was to come in 2009, with large financial losses, closures and lay-offs. Sony Ericsson’s market share fell to just 4.5%. It was going down fast and reaching out for something to break the fall.
It was becoming obvious that Symbian would not bring any further success and the decision was taken to jump on the Android bandwagon in 2010. Sony Ericsson was late to the party. HTC, Samsung, and Motorola were already producing Android smartphones. Sony had never let the dominance of others stop it from entering a new market and it wasn’t about to start now. Its usual strategy was to do things better than the competition and produce premium products that were irresistible.
The first Android smartphone from Sony Ericsson was the Xperia X10. It had a 4-inch touchscreen with a 480 x 854 pixel resolution, a 1GHz processor, and an impressive 8.1MP camera. There were some positives, but there were negatives too. The fact it shipped with Android 1.6 was a major disappointment. It was also laggy, it had no multi-touch support, it lacked a flash for that great camera, and the keyboard was widely criticized. It wasn’t a disaster, but it certainly wouldn’t be enough to turn the company’s fortunes around.
Next up, in 2011, was the Xperia Arc. Sony Ericsson was obviously getting the hang of Android because this phone launched with the latest version of Android, 2.3.2, the lag was gone, the camera had a flash, and it looked gorgeously premium. The main downside was the high price tag.
Around the same time as the Arc, Sony Ericsson launched the hotly anticipated PlayStation phone, the Xperia Play. It had long been touted as a potential savior for the company, but in the end it failed. It was too expensive, the game selection wasn’t great, it was big and heavy, and the marketing machine never got going.
Sony Ericsson’s sales continued to fall. The margins on the new Android line were better, but that wasn’t enough to stop the losses. By the middle of 2011 Sony Ericsson’s market share had fallen to less than 2% and something had to give. In October Sony announced that it would be acquiring Ericsson’s stake in the business and the deal went through in early 2012.
Sony Mobile released a string of phones in 2012 without the Ericsson branding, starting with the Xperia S, but it struggled for a major success. Attempts to compete in the mid-level sector failed and at the premium end Sony’s releases were not able to beat flagships from Samsung and HTC. Sony had also entered the tablet market in 2011 and the updated Xperia Tablet S followed in 2012. The company was beginning to creep closer to the cutting edge with attractive and powerful hardware, but it lacked a compelling USP when compared with the rest of the Android market.
The Sony Xperia Z kicked off a new round of flagship phones in 2013. It was perhaps the first time that Sony could really lay claim to offering the best Android smartphone on the market. Water resistance helped to differentiate it, the hardware combined Sony’s technological know-how and “the best of Sony in a smartphone” served as a marketing tagline. It boasted really high quality specs and Sony made a serious marketing push in regions where it could reasonably expect to make inroads – namely Japan and Europe.
Early signs suggest that sales have been good and Sony may start climbing the mobile charts again. The excellence in smartphone design was replicated in the Xperia Tablet Z, one of the best Android tablets ever made, probably the first to really challenge the iPad. A first foray into phablet territory followed with the Xperia Z Ultra.
A commitment to staying on the cutting edge can be seen in Sony’s surprise update with the Xperia Z1. The Sony Android smartphone and tablet line now has a clear identity, combining a typically stylish, minimalist design language with the latest technology.
The bad news for Americans is that Sony Mobile is focusing on Europe and Japan for the foreseeable future. It intends to build a solid base before it tries a fresh assault on the U.S. and it has never really developed good relationships with carriers stateside, which is still a prerequisite for mobile success there.
The fact that Sony has its own successful entertainment wing can only boost its prospects further. It is also locked into a gaming console war with Microsoft, as the PlayStation 4 goes head to head with the Xbox One to claim your living room. It has long had a reputation for quality in televisions, even if it proves unprofitable, as it has for several years now. What other Android manufacturer can boast its own catalogue of music and movies and a whole world of gaming pleasure? If Sony can find a way to bring these elements together with its mobile devices, then it will be an electronics giant again.
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Sony makes really good hardware. They have to focus on Software.
*cough* worst 1080p on the market, check displaymate if u disagree..
anyway I’d never buy anything Sony since they are patent trolling Google and others via Rockstar
Id have to disagree, i was looking at they’re xperia Z ultra, i checked the Triluminous display option and the X reality engine and ive got to say it was the best screen ive ever seen, it really did look like a 42″ 1080p TV but in your hand
i think everyone can agree that sony doesn’t make the best mobile display the viewing angle in my old xperia z are bad and the calibration is worst
Yes, their displays aren’t as good, but I never cared about viewing angles. I do not make sneak peeks at my phone screen. And I always use anti glare screen protectors which always bring down the display quality somewhat.
They’ve fixed that in the Z ultra and Z1
i do have the Xperia Z Ultra. It is amazing
i had that phone for month the display really is baaaaaad
and the glass is gorilla and it was really easy to scratch
Thatll be the screen protector they whack on top they call it the ” shatterproff sheet ” if you take it off you will notice dragon trail glass underneath but be warned, taking it off voids your warranty
why not just put gorilla
and display is cheap ( displaymate )
and the glass is cheap aswell
i think im good with my Chinese phone “vivo”
no, I have xperia SP with gorilla glass and within months it already scratch -_- I prefer dragontrail glass
i never heard of dragontrail so..
come out of china, you will hear about it
oh there u go, cheap chinese
dude..it s not the screen thats getting scratched
They have a protective screen guard, preapplied…
Gosh, people are so dumb
Come on man we all know that the TFT they use is really bad, now don’t tell me that IPS is also TFT cause I know it’s the same tech yet IPS looks amazing,right. other than I agree with the glass back and front cause it’s tough like a stone,I am talkign about Xperia Z cause I dropped my Xperia Z like million times and still in good condition, and another thing is that they are a bit late in updating the latest software but not that late like they used to be with Xperia S, hahaha Oh for a fact you said Sony hardware is great, yet they used old hardware for Xperia S for a 2012 phone and unable to update to latest android version hence the other flagships from other manufactures are seeing 4.3 AKA Galaxy S3. well you may say it’s the fault of Snapdragon S3 chip-set, yet I really don’t care cause I blame Sony to use old hardware :P
You are talking about previous flagships. Xperia Z1 display tech is better.
it’s a good read.
Sony should be the next Nexus partner!! I am loving my LG Nexus 5 but seeing what hardware sony could come up with for the next nexus would be awesome!
Waterproof Nexus 5 (2014) with killer 21mp camera and the Sony design and everything :O
If next Nexus is sony I will definitely buy it! :D
would better if called xperia nexus
google nexperia 6
I absolutely agree.Sony with Google means a dream phone
Could be coming, their the last major one to not produce a nexus! I would love another waterproof phone, especially from sony!
i want to see a Waterproof Nexus
When the Nexus names were a combination of “Nexus” and a brand of te manufacturer, (Nexus One, Nexus S Galaxy Nexus), it would be awesome to have an Xperia Nexus, (The LG Nexus should have been “Optimus Nexus”)
I’d buy a Sony Xperia device if it comes with AMOLED. The color of the screen just looks atrocious.
ok, an average Joe
Hopefully they are gonna overtake Apple :)
Wow, nice story. I have some suggestion for sony.
1. Use IPS / Super LCD instead of TFT
2. Use dragontrail glass in every future phones
3. Please fix camera software. Hardware is already good but software is not
4. Decrease bezel size
5. Continue makes premium product
yeah dude the z1 has huge bezels
You overdid it…
They should simply make devices with smaller bezels, and improve interface. That should get the ball rolling
you are right
Saying that Sony needs to fix camera software, Please take into your notice that Sony has recently pushed a firmware update and has fixed the low-light issue you’re talking about
I know dude, but the fixes are only to flagship phones. I have SP and i can say photos taken with it are under average 8mp performers.. So I hope sony will kick some fixes to all their phones to make us all satisfied..
Well I also have an SP which I got because my Z was stolen. Its a midrange phone that I got because I expected it to not be anything more than a reliable daily phone. I never expected Sony to give it a long product cycle with tons of updates; that’s a treatment any brand only reserves for flagships.
7. Make the skin look a bit more Google-ish, flatter, lighter and less Gingerbready, and you might start catch my eye for good
I think their launcher looks better than most to be honest. At least it’s rather functional (Sense UI ahem) and tones down the colours quite a bit (looking at you Touchwiz and Optimus).
My only complain is that the widgets are not quick to load.
SONY launcher is the lightest among it all… anyday i would prefer the Google launcher…. But comparing Samsung’s TouchWiz, LG and HTC Sense, SONY is definitely better
Light launcher with minimal gimmicks
I didn’t say anything about the rest and i don’t care about them at all!
The only ones that don’t suck (among whom Sony would be a good third place) are Motorola’s nearly stock and Nexus.
do u know what u are speaking about
Light launcher with minimal gimmicks.
I didn’t say anything about the rest! They suck worse, but i don’t like Sony’s either!
but Bezels are the trade-off for high water resistant specs
Despite popular believe, TFT is not a display technology. Not using a TFT layer means having a non-functional IPS, TN, MVA (probably Z1 panel) or even AMOLED display. By the way, Super LCD is a IPS type panel.
I agree about the article: really nicely written, organized and focused.
One point to keep in mind. One of the reasons on a visceral, emotional level that anyone who cares about buying products that help, rather than hinder them, in the pursuit of freedom has driven people away from Sony in the past – as it is Apple in the present – is/was their desire to make anything they make as utterly, totally, absolutely incompatible with anyone else’s “stuff” as it could be made – and thus lock one into their “ecosystem” by being forced to buy accessories that only “played nicely” with Sony products. Maybe they have changed their stripes – but perhaps – like the proverbial tiger – it may be impossible for them to do so.
For the time being, I will not be buying anything “Sony” until they actually prove they care more about making their customers happy and empowered – than they do about locking me up in a cell and throwing away the key.
Sony has had a good year, Well Dobe!
They probably won’t take over apple apple is a very good company their laptops are amazing their tablets are amazing they just need a bit of work on phones
Guys seriously, the Sony screens aren’t the best but their detail is absolutely superb, and the colour on the Z and Z1 is kinda not great but the Z Ultra is beautiful, and as I said, great detail!!
I would definitely agree. the viewing angles on my Z1 aren’t as horrible as people make them out to me, and the colors are amazing, if not slightly off of true color accuracy.
i have an Z Ultra. it is beautiful
Z Ultra Owner here :) my family, co-workers,my girlfriend, my friends and my classmates amazed with the screen of my baby(Z Ultra)
Pretty sure it was the Xperia X1 and not the X10
X1 was Symbian.
X10 was the first with Android.
Actually you are both wrong.
Xperia X1 was Windows Mobile 6.1 based. You are thinking of the U1i, also known as the Satio (and before release was called the Idou), which ran symbian S60 v5.
But, despite being smartphones, neither Satio itself or the related Vivaz models were members of the Xperia line. There has never been a Symbian based Xperia.
didn’t HTC make one of the Sony branded phones, I think a WinMo one? The Omnia or the Xperia X1?
You are spot on Paul.
HTC made Xperia X1 for SE. Was just a bit before the success they achieved in their own name as an Android OEM a few years later. HTC made a lot of stuff for other manufacturers throughout the noughties. Another fairly successful example would be the HP iPAQ from the middle of that decade.
SONY Xperia X1 was manufactured by HTC
details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_Ericsson_Xperia_X1
The Xperia X1 (codenamed HTC Kovsky) is a high-end smartphone from Sony Ericsson, and is the first in the manufacturer’s Xperia series. The phone was designed and built by Taiwanese OEM HTC.
The X1 is an arc-slider phone with the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system. It is Sony Ericsson’s first mobile phone to feature Windows Mobile. The device also has a Java virtual machine (JBed) and supports Java Platform, Micro Edition that is claimed to have a richer set of features than typically available.
The phone features a three-inch resistive touchscreen overlaying a keypad which emerges when the user slides the touchscreen face upward, much as in the HTC TyTN II, although the X1′s touchscreen slides out in an arc. Its touchscreen is a 65,536-color TFT WVGAdisplay. It has a 3.2-megapixel digital camera which records video at thirty frames per second in VGA (640×480) quality. There is also a secondary front-facing camera for videoconferencing that is of QCIF format. Connectivity options for the phone include: mini-USB; wireless LAN 802.11b/g; Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, FTP, and HID; EDGE; and quad-band GSM, UMTS, HSDPA, HSUPA, and HSCSD. The X1 has 512 MB of internal memory (400 MB free), which is expandable to 16 gigabytes using high capacity microSD cards, currently cards up to 32 gigabytes have been released by SanDisk. The phone also features A-GPS for navigation.
The X1 ships with Opera Mobile pre-installed.
Standard features on the X1 include push email, an RSS feed aggregator, and handwriting recognition.
It is also able to use the GSM network feature Alternate line service.
The device is powered by Qualcomm’s ARM 11 MSM7200A CPU, which runs at 528 MHz. The device’s memory is 256 MB RAM.
The home screen on the Xperia X1 supports up to nine different “panels” which can be switched between by the user, each offering different functionality. This allows users to select exactly which functionality they want on their homescreen, and switch easily. Extra panels can be downloaded from Sony Ericsson or third parties. Sony Ericsson released an SDK for developers which allows panels to be created using either C++ or HTML with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 SP1 or better. There is also a third party website which simplifies the process of creating an HTML panel, as it is quite a complex task with Visual Studio.
The X1 began shipping on 30 September 2008. It became available to the UK market on 27 October 2008 (only on Vodafone). The handset is available through the Carphone Warehouse and Phones4Uin the UK. In Europe it will be sold only in Fnac stores (Belgium and France).
In Hong Kong, X1 was shipped on 29 October 2008. The first batch of X1 in Hong Kong was dedicated for the mobile operator Three HK and was reserved for the operator’s VIP premium user for pre-ordering.
In South Africa, it was released to the public on 16 December 2009.
On 13 November, Sony Ericsson announced that the phone would be available in North America on 28 November 2008 for $799 unlocked.
In Australia, the X1a was released on Telstra in December 2008 and went on sale 26 December 2008. It’s now also available on the Vodafone and 3 Networks.
The Sony Ericsson Canadian website reveals the X1a as “coming soon”, available within three months. The availability status was spotted as early as 14 February 2010.
3″ resistive touchscreen with a resolution of 800×480 pixels (WVGA)
65 thousand color TFT display
The phone is available in two colors
Dimensions: 110.0 × 53.0 × 16.7 millimeters; 4.33 × 2.09 × 0.66 inches
Weight with battery: 158.0 grams; 5.57 ounces
Lithium-Polymer, 1500 mAh.
WCDMA video call: 3h
GSM: 20.8 days
WCDMA: 20.7 days
The Xperia X1 supports an always-on 3G broadband Internet connection with high-speed data transfer. This enables audio and video streaming, web surfing, multimedia messaging and email.
Connectivity options include:
HSDPA with download transfer rate up to 7.2 Mbit/s
HSUPA with upload transfer rate up to 2.0 Mbit/s
Bluetooth, with a range of 10 meters
GPRS modem for dial-up Internet
Synchronization and content sharing with PCs
USB mass storage
USB cable support
Windows Mobile operating system
Microsoft Outlook Mobile: email, contacts, calendar, tasks
Microsoft Office Mobile: Word, Excel, PowerPoint
Windows Media Player Mobile
Utility Applications: file explorer, calculator, pictures & video, notes
The XDAndroid project makes it possible to run Android on some Windows Mobile phones, including the Xperia X1.
Internal memory: up to 400 MB
microSD memory card support up to 16 GB
Quad-band GSM / GPRS / EDGE: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
Tri-band UMTS / HSDPA / HSUPA: UMTS 850 / 1900 / 2100 X1a, UMTS 900 / 1900 / 2100 X1i/X1c
SAR value: 0.57 W/kg
The launch of the Xperia X1 was accompanied by a video called “Who is Johnny X?”.
The launch was tied in closely with the “London Design Festival”.
^ Jump up to:a b Sony Ericsson Releases First Windows Mobile Phone 10 February 2008 Retrieved 14 February 2008
Jump up^ MSS7200A Official Datasheet 17 October 2008
Jump up^ Sony Ericsson Xperia X1/X1i/X1c(SE Venus) Specs 30 October 2008 Retrieved 30 October 2008
Jump up^ “Sony Ericsson marks the launch of its new brand XPERIA with the unveiling of the XPERIA X1″.
Jump up^ New Xperia Handsets Confirmed, by Softpedia
Jump up^ “SanDisk ships 8GB microSDHC cards,” Macnn.com, October 26, 2007. Macnn.com (26 October 2007).
Jump up^ Xperia X1 White paper Retrieved 8 June 2008
Jump up^ Xperia and Line 2 – Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 Support Forum – Expansys.com UK. Expansys.com.
Jump up^ Highest Ram Amount – Cell Phones Top List. Phonegg.com.
Jump up^ Phones | Android Smartphones – Sony Smartphones (UK). Sonyericsson.com (1 January 1970).
Jump up^ [dead link]
Jump up^ Карта сайта. Mysonyericssonblog.com.
Jump up^ 【視像詳測】一機九變 SE Xperia X1 玩個性介面 – 第1頁 – 手機館 – ePrice.HK. Eprice.com.hk.
Jump up^ xperiancers.com. xperiancers.com.
Jump up^ XPERIA preliminary specifications. Pdadb.net.
Jump up^ “Who is Johnny X?”, USEB, September 10, 2008[dead link]
You are right about the X10 being first Android though.
Too early to say if sony is back. The competition is just too tough what with influx of chinese and indian brand phone like lenovo, micromaz, zte , hwawei and other smaller players.
Sony has all the ingredients to become a very big player again. They have indeed an entertainment ecosystem that Samsung can oly dream right now.
Problem is their Android doens’t work very welland it does look even worst. They need a lot of work out there.
I’ve suggested some time ago they might purchase BlackBerry and its QNX made BB10 which is going to be compatible with Android apps completely very soon.
Then keep the BlackBerry brand for business market and with qwerty keyboard and do the “touch” stuff” with the Sony own brand. QNX might power future versions of Playstation too instead of the FreeBSD.
Other option is to collaborate with the guys from Jolla with Sailfish OS. Sony it’s not the kind of company who relies on other’s software.
what is wrong with Android running on the Xperia Z series?
it seems fine to me.
I love QNX!!! I really hope someone is smart enough to see that it should be the platform to build on — it will work for any application from phones to medical equipment. . . and the real-time mission critical design is what we need.
I actually think Sony has the nicest UI of all the manufacturers. It looks like an elegant version of stock android. It’s definitely better looking than Samsung and LG’s UI. But their software is always a bit laggy.
I really do agree with you when you say it looks elegant and to my eye also classy , although , (speaking from experience) , The Timescape UI was one of the Smoother user interfaces , Smoother than Touchwiz at least (probably because its less bloated)
I’m with that too. However it is the best of a bad bunch. I think on!y HTC and Sony make something attractive
Yes thats true
Light launcher with minimal gimmicks.. …
You know !!
Nah, Oppo and Xiaomi are the awakening Andoid giants.
You have a point, and I’d like to add Lenovo.
yes i agree, but SONY is great
Easiest way for Sony to broaden itself and become a next gen tech powerhouse is to ally itself with Google and integrate a flavor of android into it’s PlayStation operating system making the PlayStation a Google TV vehicle and integrating PlayStation gaming into Android as an app. PS Vita anywhere via an app on any android phone where you can play your games everywhere. Not only would this revolutionize the gaming platform wars but it would have a similar impact on mobile o/s platform wars. Huge strikes against Microsoft’s gaming division in Windows phones.
but google does not seem to like sony
there was an Xperia Z Google Play Edition planned, but didnt make its cut
the fact that Sony are indirectly suing Google and Android cannot help Sony become a Google Nexus supplier?
The problem with the Rockstar patent troll is that it operates independently. Which means it will go after anyone that isn’t a party to them, regardless of the relationships the attacked company may have.
Furthermore, I’m pretty sure google was given the opportunity to buy into Rockstar when those patents were purchased, and they chose not to. . . so. . .
Or make playstation 4 have google plus support. Like sharing games and vids through plus.
I see everyone already forgot Sony involvement in patent war against Google… Interesting… For me this company is worth more or less the same as Apple and Microsoft… Not much…
Ending was a little dumb.. I doubt Sony has the guts to take risks in order to increase market share.
Sony products still are much better and last longer than Samsung but owning the Hollywood studios and the software Sony refuse to let their products play majority of the audio and video codecs like xvid; h264 etc. When you are comparing products customers naturally like to go for the one that plays most formats and for this reason I had to switch to lg. I have been disappointed with Samsung as many of their products are breaking down and their customer service is dreadful. It’s a nightmare to get Samsung products repaired even when under warranty as they just blame it on the customer. I wish Sony come back and take the top spot in electronics as they did before because they produce way better products than Samsung.
yep, Sony pulls far to many proprietary and “works only with other sony products” junk. that’s a major turn off for me. . .
have you heard of a Galaxy Gear, which works only with Note 3??? :D
While Sony’s SMARTWATCH works with anything that has Android and Bluetooth
a rare example from Sony. . . I won’t talk about the last Sony receiver I tried, and sammy is trying to go down the same road as apple. . . and I’m now avoiding their stuff as well :)
Can you give me an example of proprietary items in Sony Android
Hmm, perhaps you should check which components are made for Sony by Samsung…better is subjective. What’s good for one isn’t good for another. That’s why there is choice; being able to choose what you want and when…
Great article. I always bought sony products I love their TVs, google tv products, blue ray. Looking at experia z products of phone and tablets makes me want to switch to sony for mobile. I hope sony is back just got the PS4 it is really the best game console.
up till about 2000 I considered Sony a go to company for electronics, but I haven’t seen the same level of quality and intelligent design since then, and have turned to other companies. I’ve found that these mega companies that make everything are rarely the best at anything. Personally, I would like to see Sony refocus on core items and stop trying to make anything and everything.
First time to comment here….I own a Sony Xperia L… :D It is just awesome…..Whoever wrote this post, Kudos :)….Nice and short summary of the Electronic Giant….I really hope that Sony invents something big in the smartphone segment. Nice article A-A m/ …..
There was a time (back in the 80′s) when Sony was the undisputed leader in consumer electronics. Their Trinitron televisions really did have the best picture quality. Now, when you go into a Best Buy, it’s more difficult to distinguish between the brands. They started losing their edge as they focused on ‘content’. Producing movies, television, music led them to view electronics consumers with suspicion as they locked down their hardware.
yep, back then when I bought electronics it was Sony. . . I personally think they lost their edge when they became a “make everything” electronics manufacturer, I’m sure being a content producer didn’t help their focus.
I purchased the first Xperia X10 mentioned in the article. Apart from the usual gripes mentioned, at that time it was a great phone. If I am not mistaken the Galaxy S1 came after about 6 months of the X10. And at that time, there was hardly an Android competitor with a premium build. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great Android phones then (for that time) but none of them were a looker and the X10 was first step in bringing style to the Android domain.
There were many things lacking in this phone. Firstly nobody knew about this phone. It was not available with any carriers and I certainly did not see any ads about this phone in the USA. I happened to chance on it on some Youtube video and tracked it down and bought 1 unlocked. Once the phone came and till its sad death in a glass of beer 6 months later :( I could not find any accessories for it. Not even a body cover! (of course things were available online) Nobody knew about that phone and everyone thought I was a cool kid modifying an iPhone 3G to look awesome!
Point is Sony always kept giving half baked goods to the smartphone world. The baked parts were fantastic. However the remaining parts failed monumentally. Nobody could believe in Sony at least as far as smartphones were concerned. Now they have released some great hardware with good support features in place. Only time will tell if they continue to support their devices and give its consumers confidence to buy a Sony a second time (for smartphones). I maybe low on info as I dont know if the recent crop of Sony devices are getting updates because myself a customer lost faith in Sony phones after a rocky relation with their first breed of phones and have not looked their way since. But I suppose this is what they are targeting too, customer loyalty through a solid rebranding of their phones. I hope they succeed!
Actually they did a great job on skipping S600 processor to S800 processor, now they can actually keep the newest phones updated with the processors.
market cap of sony in 2000 was $200 billion but now its $25 billion, last year it was $15 billion. so, yes the giant is leaping back. I am a lifetime sony fan
A very nice and well written article
Sony smartphone never support device encryption. Major turn off for me.
HTC and Samsung have device encryption, as far as I know.
The galaxy s3 has kitkat already!? /watch?v=ZVipBbrfCkQ
Good story. The Xperia Play was so disappointing. Gaming controls on a phone seemed awesome, but the phone shipped with outdated specs for the time. It wasn’t appealing to the non gamers… And the hard-core mobile gamers didn’t want a sluggish phone. It basically had no market.
Good article. I think Sony has all along had the ingredients to create an ecosystem but it really hasn’t advertised it until recently with the XZ1 ads.
I remember how proud I was – having my first real job – to be able to buy my folks that first generation Trinitron (12″ of – for the time – unprecedented picture quality), plus another for me. I also had a Walkman, later a Discman, and STILL am able to coax my little walkaround 1997 digital AM-FM (10 pre-set stations) to accompany me on walks while I listen to local NBA games – and that’s after trips under water and many, many drops.
Lately, though, given the key points the story missed, my tendency has been to avoid most of their products for various reasons.
One obvious miss was how (the technically superior) Betamax was at once Sony’s highwater mark and a serious blow at the same time – when “good enough” VHS won the VCR wars.
Another was how Sony (along with Panasonic and others) had already started to go way downmarket – attaching their name (and prestige and cachet) on a whole bunch of cheap crap to compete at every price point. They would have been very well-advised to have rolled out another brand for all of these goods (or been like Apple and “focused liked a laser” on building fewer “insanely great products,” with envelope-pushing features, i.e., avoided the schlock biz altogether).
The third – and most annoying to consumers – was that even as they lost focus, they tried another (also annoying) Apple tactic, they felt they could still dictate standards – witness the Memory Stick vs. flash memory cards – which was different all right, but in no meaningful way superior, and lacked ubiquitous distribution, so just another “non-standard” thing Sony customers had to deal with, and end up in a niche where they couldn’t share with others.
Or the Atrac vs mp3/AAC dust-up. Again, music recorded on Sony gear wasn’t notably better, but the files were far more isolated. There was nothing akin to the iTunes and later Apple Store ecosystems – including the smattering of “Sony Lifestyle” stores they tried in malls. And there were a good number of other failed attempts to leapfrog the market that led nowhere.
So a) schizophrenic on brand image (was Sony a Wally World low-ball junk maker or a high end luxury brand? who could tell?), b) scattered efforts/meandering product focus and image, and c) box canyon attempts to grab the standards balls back. Among other missteps.
I doubt it’s too late for a comeback. Their rise in the camera market from nowhere to very competitive is one example (without trying to impose some gimmicky new image format, yet!). And right up there in gaming. Also, they seem to have finally digested their media acquisitions which further highly distracted management for years.
And it’s clear they can still design and make some nice gear.
Are they true innovators again – and able to avoid simply being different (and incompatible)? For sure, great ideas backed by capital and clear-thinking management will always have a chance.
Bottom line, know I’d welcome a resurgent Sony that’s hopefully learned from its mistakes and is able to reconnect to what made it a leading innovator and admired brand in the first place.
Make the skin look a bit more Google-ish, modern, lighter and less Gingerbready, and you might start catch my eye for good
The article fails to touch on why Sony floundered for a while – because their various departments insisted on working in silos and refused to collaborate with one another. Because they would not share their innovations and technologies with one another, they soon fell behind other companies like Apple.
I have been out of touch with their developments for a while now. Has Sony finally gotten their act together?
was it fault of former ceo Howard Stringer?
Is it me, or is there irony in the title, “the awakening of a sleeping giant” for an article published TODAY…
The biggest problem I see with the Xperia line from its inception, and as to why it hasn’t taken over the world like we would have wanted to, is the fact that Sony ‘Over-hypes but Under-delivers.’ And they are quite notorious for it.
I mean, they talked about how glorious the Xperia Z1 was (great display, excellent camera experience, fast speeds). Sure, the S800 of the Z1 flies, but the display is only ‘good’ by 2013 standards (LG, HTC, and Samsung laugh at the Z1 display) and the camera fails to deliver on the hype of its optics and imaging chops – it performs good, but then the LG G2 performs better, to say nothing of the Lumia. (Which is ironic, considering a lot of Sony MILC’s are considered best-in-class.)
The Xperia Z is ostensibly pretty for an early 2013 phone, but it was hamstrung with less-than-stellar display and camera chops. And the fact that it did not come out of the gate with Qualcomm’s latest processor at the time didn’t help.
The Xperia S of 2012 should have been a new beginning for them. Sure it had an unheard-of 342 ppi on a 720p display, but they strapped it with a Snapdragon S3 processor. NVIDIA (and eventually Samsung) laughed at them with their quad-core monsters.
Even Xperia arc. They released it way too close to when Samsung released the Galaxy S2. And obscure specs at the time didn’t help Sony at all.
PlayStation mobile was, and is, a mess. At best the games were rehashes of obscure PS1 titles and some nice indie games (No Gran Turismo?!) And despite the name, you cannot connect to your PS3 and/or PS4 with the service.
(There is a separate app to connect to your PS4, sure. But shouldn’t the functionality of the app be tied to the actual Playstation mobile service on Xperia’s, and not through an app, so as to leverage further the Playstation chops of Sony to make an Xperia a compelling buy?)
And why hasn’t Sony released an anti-Netflix, only for Sony Xperia’s, with only Sony movies titles?
I mean, as much as we ding Samsung for stuffing every top Galaxy to the brim with features that we won’t use often if at all, we have to give them credit, for such features despite questionable utility, work as Samsung says on the tin. And that, with aggressive marketing, helped the Galaxy line sell, and sell well it has.
Perhaps, to end this, looking forward, Sony already has the makings of its own ‘iTunes’ – it has its own music arm, its movies arm, its Playstation arm, and the leverage of Google and Android. It has great solid content through such arms, and it is genuinely different in the Android hardware space, to say nothing of the people working on the Alpha Camera and Bravia TV lines. It now just needs to collate such services together, and please stop hyping about features on the phones, if the actual device will not live up entirely to it.
You know what, you can call me a SONY fan…
My first mobile was a T610, which was one of the first with a good display and camera
Then came along the K500, with its amazing sound quality
Then K750i, with its Cybershot camera and LED Flash
W800 followed suite, with its WALKMAN application
Post this, came the S500, with its amazing colour accents
Then it was K850′s turn. It had a 5 MP camera and LED flash
I loved all these feature phone……
Then came the Android Xperia X10, which was an amazing phone, considering it had a 4″ screen and 8 MP camera with HD recording. I simply loved this phone.
Now, i rock an Xperia Z Ultra and there is no looking back
SONY….. Yeah baby yeah !!!
Read in Wikipedia
You know !!!
what kind of bs story is this? no one is impressed by sony anymore.. what do you mean the sales have been picking up? not really… do you get paid to write these stuff?
what is wrong with you?
read this: http://androidcommunity.com/sony-q3-2013-results-show-increase-in-mobile-device-sales-20131031/
Sony eked out about 10 million mobile devices last quarter, which is an incremental increase over the 9.6 million the sold the previous quarter. Sony sold 8.8 million in Q3 2012, so the year-over-year growth is promising, but not impressive yet. On the back of powerhouse devices like the Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z Ultra, we thought there would be better news.
Sony reported an upward trend in sales and operating revenue, with $18 billion in Q3. That’s a 10.6% hike compared to last year, though Sony notes that number is due to a favorable exchange rate adjustment and sales of mobile devices. On a constant currency basis (not appreciating for exchange rates), Sony’s sales are down 9% year-over-year.
Their operating income is down to $151 million, which Sony notes has to do with a sharp decline in sales everywhere but mobile. We can only hope that Sony appreciates the trends they’re seeing toward mobile devices, and acts accordingly. They have some of the best devices around, but can be hard to get hold of. They have a unique opportunity to be a powerhouse player for the premium handset sector, and we hope they take that mantle.
if you do not know, keep your mouth shut
Pfff, the X10 was my first Android phone and my last Sony phone. What a disaster, lost it after a month with a commonly faulty micro USB connection and still they wouldn’t back up their product through warranty. Never again Sony.
The Z is a sweet line but it’s a big phone. I need a small phone 100% of the time compared to a waterproof phone i need 1% of the time tops. The ZL didn’t really work out. Give us a separate premium line of phones that’s 5″ and not brick sized.
Sony is like a caged tiger, a huge load of potential just waiting to be released.
I would have to agree with you on that one. If you’ve been following Sony you already know it has hardware and software prowess to become the best android experience with the exception of the Google experience smartphones like the Nexus line.
I have a Samsung S4 which is great but I would seriously consider a sony for my next handset as I like the hardware, Ok originally Sony sucked big time in the software area (don’t even mention the pebble!) and using proprietary hardware was idiotic but they appear to have extracted their heads from their asses and turned things around plus I don’t like the way Samsung is going and I simply don’t trust LG but being a European I am more used to Sony hardware than American Apple hardware.. Go Sony!
compared to weak Samsung hub, Sony with its media production house can deliver content to their wide range of devices but a seamless user experience is still a hurdle building their own ecosystem
I love Sony smartphones because they care about the camera features. and I hate Nokia XD
Rise from the ashes…welcome back sleeping giant :D
X10 do has flash, please fix.
U brought back many good memories ;) Sony is best!