In a decision that is sure to upset many of the fans Sony has left, it has been reported by a Sony store manager in Japan that the conglomerate may be ending the Xperia Tablet series. Dozens of websites – and even some stores – have now made mention of the story.
The origin of the speculation was apparently pending promotional material that reflected sales would be ending in early March. The caveat is that this apparently pertains to Wi-Fi only models, so in theory the cellular variants may still stick around.
The source responsible for the news also made note that any future tablet product is currently “pending” or “undecided” depending on how one wishes to translate the word “未定”. It is unclear as to if this refers strictly to Wi-Fi variants, or all of the company’s tablets in general.
What’s the cause for concern?
Before addressing the issue at large, it is important to consider the Japanese market in and of itself. Should this news pan out, it would come as a somewhat serious blow to Sony’s already limited selection of Android-based products on sale in the country. Unlike in outside Asian markets, as well as in Europe, many – if not all – of Sony’s low and mid range smartphones are not sold in Japan. This means the Xperia Tablet is a more prominent product when it comes to overall offerings.
In addition, while the idea of a Wi-Fi only model might not seem as important, it is relevant to point out that the Xperia Z Ultra was originally released in Japan as a Wi-Fi tablet, which was then later picked up by the country’s smallest major carrier, KDDI au and sold as a traditional phone like it was elsewhere.
Perhaps even more relevant and – somewhat – more recent, the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact was only released as a Wifi device in Japan, despite numerous Asian markets receiving it as a full blown cellular consideration. For explanations unknown, not a single carrier offered the mini’s mobile make.
Still, Sony’s tablets have consistently been sold at extremely high price points, with even the Z3 Tablet Compact selling for over $450 when it released here. The full-blown carrier models are even more expensive, usually retailing for around $800 when purchased at full price. This puts the Xperia Tablet brand in direct competition with Apple’s iPad. Apple in and of itself, almost always outsells Sony in Japan with respect to the mobile space, especially in recent years.
Meanwhile, similar products are often significantly cheaper. As Sony’s brand name value decreases over time for some, so too may the perceived benefit of spending such money for a tablet from the famous OEM. Another problem? When push comes to shove the differences between the Xperia Z2 Tablet and the Xperia Z4 Tablet, for example, may not be strong enough to justify the financial outlay for some.
What future may follow
Sony didn’t release a Z5 Tablet last year which came as a bit of a surprise given that there has been an Xperia Tablet released along side each of its major Z-series smartphone offerings. The Z5 of course, was released mere months after the Z4 (or Xperia Z3+ depending on the market’s naming convention) and it may have been decided that another tablet would be redundant.
Nonetheless, Fall 2015 would have been an excellent time to put out a follow-up to the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, however the opportunity was thus passed on.
The decision to terminate tablets – if true – may make more sense when considering a post on this subject by XperiaBlog.net which stated:
We know that tablets made just 5% of Sony Mobile’s revenues back in 2013 and that was expected to shrink even further. Given the R&D costs of developing and supporting new devices, Sony may feel that producing another tablet for 2016 might not be commercially viable.
It remains to be seen what exactly will transpire this year. A leak has already surfaced that purports to picture the Xperia Z6 smartphone, and the design is a dramatic departure from the more easily identifiable image the Z series has used since its inception.
Should Sony formally withdraw from the tablet marketplace, it will mean the end of a brand that many users loved, and the end of yet another high end tablet offering for customers to choose from.
We want to hear what you think about this situation. Would you care if Sony dropped its Xperia Tablet line, or are you a loyal fan who will deeply miss it? Be sure to take our survey below, and then leave your thoughts in the comments section so all can hear what you have to say!