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Sony wants a spot on the podium alongside Samsung and Apple

At a roundtable briefing in Tokyo today, Sony discussed how it plans to overtake Hauwei, and claim the spot just behind Samsung and Apple as the world's third largest manufacturer.
March 4, 2013
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According to a roundtable briefing in Tokyo which took place today, Sony has some big ambitions for this year. Kunimasa Suzuki, president and CEO of Sony Mobile Communications, boldly stated that Sony is looking to overtake Chinese market leader Huawei and take its place as the third largest company in terms of number of handsets shipped.

Sony currently sits in fourth position behind Huawei, Samsung, and Apple, with a market share of 4.5 percent, according to research conduced by IDC. This puts them just slightly behind Huawei, which has a 4.9 percent share, and just ahead of ZET which claimed 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. However these companies pale in comparison to Apple and Samsung, which jointly took more than half of the total market share last year.

But how exactly does Sony intend to make its way in to third position? Earlier in the year Sony stated that it wants to focus entirely on mid and high level handsets, but has yet to demonstrate sales figures which show that the strategy is breaking ground. Sony’s premium handsets like the Xperia Z are selling quite well, but don’t appear to be giving the company the advantage it needs to leap ahead other manufactures, as competition for top of the line handsets is already extremely high.

It looks like Sony is already prepared to u-turn on this business plan, as the latest tactics discussed at the meeting appear to be focused around manufacturing affordable handsets for emerging markets. This decision is likely to have something to do with Sony’s announcement just last week to support the upcoming Firefox OS. We’ve already seen an experimental Firefox ROM running on the Xperia E, which could be a sign of the sort of handset that Sony is looking to make an impact with in emerging markets.

This new strategy could certainly pay dividends in markets where budget orientated products are big business, like China for example. If Sony can gain a foothold in these markets with cheaper handsets, then it could well oust Hauwei from third position. But as it doesn’t plan on being the first to market with cheap Firefox OS smartphones, Sony risks having to play catch-up yet again.

It’s still early in the year, and as there are no precise details on what exactly Sony plans to do over the coming months it’s hard to speculate on exactly where Sony will end up come the end of 2013. Third place is certainly attainable; the opportunities are there, but can Sony seize the initiative.