Sony in third place: how the hell did that happen?

Sony in third place: how the hell did that happen?Yesterday evening, Martin relayed the somewhat surprising news that Japanese manufacturer Sony took third place in the Q3 smartphone arms race – that’s according to the folks at IDC.

It’s probably fair to say the question on everyone’s lips (literally, in the case of Pondlife) was: “How the hell did that happen?” Sony Mobile, third only to Apple and Samsung? Zuh?

Amusingly, IDC seems to be just as surprised as everyone else. I refer you to their October 25 press release, detailing global Q3 smartphone performance.

In particular, scroll down to ‘Smartphone Vendor Highlights’, and you’ll see – in order of smartphone market share – Samsung (31.3%), Apple (15%), RIM (Research In Motion) (4.3%), ZTE (4.2%) and HTC (4%).

That’s right; there’s no mention of Sony whatsoever. To be fair to IDC, it does state: “Data are preliminary and subject to change.”

Having said that, there’s no sign of Sony anywhere on the press release. Not even once. LG pops up in ‘Top Five Total Mobile Vendors’ (looking beyond smartphones), and even Motorola gets a mention – as it was once the number three smartphone vendor.

Similarly, Mobotnik paranoidandroid asked last week: “What are the current Android rankings? Who's behind Samsung? HTC? Huawei? LG!!??” Again, no mention of Sony. Oops.

So how the hell did Sony manage to slip off the radar and quietly leap from sixth place (this time last year) to third?

I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. But allow me to spill forth some random thoughts and we’ll see what we can come up with.

Firstly, as Martin pointed out, it’s arguably less a case of Sony doing well (Sony’s smartphone share is actually down, year-on-year), and more about Nokia, HTC and RIM doing poorly, as each languishes in its own unique cesspool of smartphone terribleness.

The Finns’ Q3 was dominated by the announcement of the Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820, their first Windows Phone 8 devices. But while the pair was met with a largely positive reaction, it didn’t help that we knew squat about Windows Phone 8, and – more importantly – that they didn’t go on sale till very recently. “Hey, don’t buy that Nokia Lumia 900, we’ve got new phones coming out in a few months!” More importantlier still, does anyone give a cr*p about Windows Phone?

As for HTC, well, where do we start? Once the darlings of the Android world circa the HTC Desire, the Taiwanese manufacturer now has a Samsung-shaped fist in its cheek. The HTC One X has been well and truly trounced by the Samsung Galaxy S III, and the Taiwanese have been uncharacteristically quiet, announcing only the HTC Desire C (and the HTC 8X and 8S, though they weren't on sale in Q3) in the nine months since Mobile World Congress. Uhm, maybe less isn’t more, after all.

Who were the other guys? Ah, RIM! How could I forget? Sorry, RIM. The Canadians have really been in limbo of late, as we await BlackBerry 10 (currently scheduled for launch on January 30). I think I’m right in saying they’ve announced pretty much nothing – certainly nothing major – since the BlackBerry Bold Touch. That was back in 2011. Good lord.

Of course, it’s not all about the high-end beasts, and RIM actually came in fourth; emerging markets, yadda yadda yadda.

Going back to Sony, I suspect they’re still selling phones to Joe Average on the back of their name. I mean; I reckon your average western dude is likely to opt for Sony over Huawei, for example. Especially with Huawei being spies, 'n' all (ahem).

And they’ve definitely got the whole Android range thing nailed, with the Sony Xperia S and T at the top, and Xperia U and J at the bottom (and a couple in the middle, for good measure).

Oh, one thing I don’t think anyone has mentioned is that we’re talking about smartphone shipments here – not units sold. There could be hundreds of thousands of Xperias sitting on shelves for all anyone knows. Just a thought.

And so ends my random 2am rant about Sony’s Q3 smartphone market share. Anything to add? Pop down to the comments, friend.

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5 comments

Pondlife  Nov. 28, 2012 at 13:05

Ah good point about shipments rather than sales, think the recent price drops on the U for example show that they must have had a few of those cluttering up the place.
Yeah I quite like the T though it looks lousy value post n4 unveiling.

matt101101 / MOD  Nov. 28, 2012 at 13:10

it looks lousy value post n4 unveiling.
An argument that can be made for any £200+ phone on the market nowadays...

Pondlife  Nov. 28, 2012 at 13:13

Did you notice after all that spy talk they still bought the huawei kit though?

Pondlife  Nov. 28, 2012 at 13:16

it looks lousy value post n4 unveiling.
An argument that can be made for any £200+ phone on the market nowadays...


But still a valid one...
For a lot of phones under the £200 too, the sensation at £180 might have been damn compelling otherwise

JanSt / MOD  Nov. 28, 2012 at 16:18

I do not believe this. Not at all.

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