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Sony exec reveals why its phone cameras have lagged behind (Update: Sony issues statement)

A Sony executive claimed that inter-department rivalries were to blame, but Sony has since issued a statement on the subject.

Published onMarch 5, 2019

Sony Xperia 1 Sony Xperia 10 10 Plus

Update, March 8, 2019 (12:02AM): Sony has issued a statement following the publication of the Trusted Reviews interview with Sony executive Adam Marsh. The executive stated in the interview that interdepartmental tensions were to blame for the disappointing performance of Sony’s smartphone cameras. Now, the Japanese giant has claimed there aren’t any rivalries between its business units in this regard.

“There are no interdepartmental rivalries between the various divisions and business units within Sony that would impact collaboration. The appointment of Kimio Maki as Executive Deputy President allowed him to bring a vast amount of experience from across consumer and professional imagining, which includes Alpha and CineAlta technologies, into the Xperia business, which you see reflected for the first time in the camera of the Xperia 1,” read the statement, which was also sent to Android Authority.

Were the original comments simply a misquote by Marsh or is it a case of damage control for Sony? Either way, you can’t deny that there’s a lot riding on the Xperia 1 flagship right now.

Original article, March 5, 2019 (01:36AM): Sony is renowned for being one of the most important players in the smartphone industry, almost solely due to the fact that it supplies camera sensors for scores of manufacturers. Despite this hardware expertise, the company has never really offered a killer smartphone camera experience in the past few years.

Adam Marsh, Sony’s senior manager of global marketing, has outlined the reason for this in an interview with Trusted Reviews (via Xperia Blog). And the executive has blamed a rivalry between the mobile and Alpha mirrorless camera divisions for the disappointing results.

Read: We asked, you told us — You’d buy the HUAWEI Mate X over the Samsung Galaxy Fold

“Even though we’re one company, there are still sometimes barriers that Alpha doesn’t want to give Mobile certain things, because all of a sudden you have the same as what a 3,000 pound camera’s got,” Marsh told the outlet.

“Now that barrier’s gone a little bit. They’re saying ‘okay, we see that having a smartphone and camera that gives you the same experience is a good thing,'” the executive continued.

What’s the reason for the change?

Sony Xperia 1 Sony Xperia 10 10 Plus

Kimio Maki, formerly head of the Alpha division, is now in charge of mobile, and he reportedly halted work on what would’ve been the Xperia XZ4 in favor of a new approach. Marsh said the new approach saw Maki fostering collaboration between the various brands and the mobile division.

“Because that imaging team is all together, they can share that experience across Cybershot, Alpha and Xperia,” the executive explained.

It certainly sounds like a wise move, allowing the various divisions to share resources and innovations in theory.  Furthermore, the executive said it’s “possible” for software features from the Alpha cameras to come to the Sony Xperia line.

Sony in 2019: Playing catch-up

The company representative also acknowledged that Sony phones weren’t going to have mass market appeal, but outlined its strengths.

“Sony as a brand is not going to appeal to everybody. We’re not a Samsung, we’re not a HUAWEI. But what we will appeal to is people who want quality products where they are able to take amazing pictures or a video, or do something different,” Marsh said, adding that its strengths were related to the screen and camera.

The Xperia 1 represents the first flagship as part of this arrangement, then. We’ll need to spend time with a review unit to determine whether the company’s efforts are bearing fruit though. But between the triple rear cameras, 4K HDR OLED display, and overdue RAW noise reduction, there’s every reason to be cautiously optimistic.

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