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Could Sony pull out of smartphones?

Do you think it's realistic that Sony could pull out of the smartphone business? I often wonder how much money is in it for non-Samsung/Apple manufacturers.

Most Useful Answer satchef1  Sep. 25, 2014 at 16:39

Not any time soon. They screwed up big-time this year, but it should be a one-off. They failed to see a glut of high-quality, cheap hardware coming out of China. Their lower-end hardware was utterly beaten - relatively expensive or not of great quality, there has been little reason for consumers to invest in cheaper Sony handsets. Nokia, Motorola and various Chinese and Indian manufacturers have simply provided a better, cheaper selection of handsets.

Traditionally Sony isn't very good in markets where margins tighten up. It tends to produce poor quality hardware or simply miss the competitive price point altogether. As such, it would seem likely that they will focus further up the market from now on. You can bet that they'll continue producing the Z-Series for a while yet, though the long-term sustainability is questionable (it's only a matter of time before margins tighten here as well).

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satchef1  Sep. 25, 2014 at 16:39

Not any time soon. They screwed up big-time this year, but it should be a one-off. They failed to see a glut of high-quality, cheap hardware coming out of China. Their lower-end hardware was utterly beaten - relatively expensive or not of great quality, there has been little reason for consumers to invest in cheaper Sony handsets. Nokia, Motorola and various Chinese and Indian manufacturers have simply provided a better, cheaper selection of handsets.

Traditionally Sony isn't very good in markets where margins tighten up. It tends to produce poor quality hardware or simply miss the competitive price point altogether. As such, it would seem likely that they will focus further up the market from now on. You can bet that they'll continue producing the Z-Series for a while yet, though the long-term sustainability is questionable (it's only a matter of time before margins tighten here as well).

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 28, 2014 at 11:00

Yep.
There's a reason Samsung have over 80 Galaxy models: for the likes of Samsung, Sony, HTC etc 1 or 2 highen devices are not enough. Their business models are different to Apple's.
If you only produce one or two devices per year, your devices will not end up in everyone's pockets, but you can reap incredible benefits - lower R&D costs etc... Supporting 50 million units of the same model is much easier and more cost efficient than supporting 50 models that you sell a million times.
Churning out a wide range of models can help bring your brand out there, but: when your low end devices suck and/or get poor support (updates etc) then consumers are unlikely to upgrade to your flagships once they can afford a highend device. Dito: when someone likes a midrange device and realises that a similar device at 2 1/2 times the price doesn't do much more... That'll be a mind-changer. That is where the likes of the Moto G and Chinese devices really make the traditional 'leaders' suffer. Sony, e.g. were careless with the first Z and Z1 and the first Compact. Yes, cameras in smartphones are a big deal. Twitter, e.g., is now mainly used from mobile devices, and Twitter is big-time about sharing pics. Sony knows that. But the first Z models all under-performed in that regard in spite of Sony's camera clout. That hurts.
And it's hard to make up for that later. People are primed to be suspicious.
Palm's first Pre was rushed. It had huge potential and some great features, but it had both hard- and software issues - plus a convoluted support system. It didn't matter that the Pre 2 and 3 were much much better. Too late, and people just wouldn't believe Palm/HP had what it takes. This is simplified, but still - it's an example of how to end a company as if you tried.

Staying with photo capabilities, the Lumias suffer a similar issue. Camera's aside, the midrange and high-end Lumias are very similar. Anyone who was a happy Lumia budget owner and therefore upgrades to a high-end Lumia is in for a surprise. Yes: the 930 and 1520 take excellent pics, but not in the way the competition's ware does. With an iPhone or HTC One you can point and shoot, and in most situations you will capture something useable for Instagram or FB or Twitter. Bad light, playing kids, the kitten in action etc etc With a Lumia you need to 'plan' your pics. Slow auto-focus and saving can be frustrating. Great cameras. In the right hands and in the right situation. The best. But most people point and click. Get an iPhone or an M7/M8. Sony's first Zs were like that - convoluted menus you HAD to use to really make something of the good hardware.

If Sony's current strategy can be sustained or lead to success is very questionable.
We are now, in a very short time, at the Compact 3 (!!!). It is supposedly much improved over the first Compact. But MOST consumers hardly know what model they use. Walk into a phone store, and chance are THAT Sony Z Compact THEY sell is still the first model. Not good. It sucks. And the support of this flood of Zs will eventually suffer. It IS simply too expensive.
Samsung, e.g., have done next to nothing to deal with the flood of complaints about the first Ace or the first Samsung Galaxy Camera... I doubt many of the original Ace buyers will buy another Ace. Or, indeed, another Android phone. Not when they have enough iPhone owning friends who have never encountered any of those many problems.

Ach... on and on... I reckon Sony can afford to hang around a bit. But come the end of 2015 they will be in dire straits. And those straits will be crowded with floaters and drifters...
The bubble has burst.

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