This is something I’ve been banging on for quite some time now and it looks like my hunch on Sony’s future phone strategy is materializing. In a recent media briefing in Asia, Sony took to the stage to not only to outline the history of their mobile division, but to also give clues as to where things are going. Sony currently sees three chapters in their mobile history.
Chapter 1 –
Sony calls their first chapter an “open OS for web communication” which took place between 2010 and 2012. During those initial years, Sony Ericsson really began to transition from dumbphones to smartphones powered by Android. The split between Sony and Ericsson also started in 2011 and by mid-2012, Sony Mobile was created to operate fully in house.
Chapter 2 –
The second chapter, which is labeled “Best of Sony: Camera & AV Entertainment,” is really where the Sony Mobile that we know of today took shape. Between 2013 and 2015, Sony reworked their app offerings, bringing more entertainment features while also cutting down on the junk software that plague many Android devices – this was a deliberate pivot towards keeping their phones closer to stock Android when compared to Samsung and others. It’s also during these years that Sony truly pushed their camera technology forward which has been one of the leading features on their now defunct Xperia Z family (more on that in a minute).
Chapter 3 –
This is the current (and perhaps most interesting) chapter that Sony finds itself in which will range between 2016 and 2018. Sony calls it “Xperia for new communication.” Where before the positioning of Xperia was entertainment, a reflection that could easily be seen in the apps and offerings that Sony focused on, the new strategy going forward will revolve around IoT (internet of things) and the Cloud as the leading driver and differentiator of the Xperia X branding.
Don’t take this as an indication that Sony will somehow be dropping previous features like their Music and Video apps but that Sony sees those services as fairly mature with less room to innovate and differentiate. However, cloud services and IoT are at the beginning of their life cycle, especially as more homes and cars become connected. We already saw part of this strategy play out at CES 2016 where Sony showed off a series of home automation features in their Android TV lineup.
Xperia fans should take this as an encouraging sign that Sony is looking to invest and partake at the beginning of a new trend where previously, they’ve always played catch up, coming in at a time where the market had already settled. Perhaps not so coincidently, Sony is also beginning to offer their own IoT products like the Qrio Smart Lock. Let’s just hope that Sony’s different divisions have the foresight to create meaningful integration between their devices that extend beyond downloading the same generic app that anybody else could.
With chapter three also comes a new thinking to Sony’s smartphone branding. From what I’ve gathered, the Xperia C and M branding will be joining the deceased Z branding and all future devices will fall under Xperia X. I most recently touched upon this exact thing when rumors began to pop up about a potential Xperia C6 Ultra. I’d written then:
Sony is currently doubling down with their marketing and branding of the Xperia X family and I have a feeling that a majority of their phones in the future will fall under the same naming structure.
One problem Sony typically faces is a wide product lineup with little marketing budget and due to that, causing confusion even amongst the consumers who are aware of their products. On the other hand, Samsung has the Galaxy line, specifically the Galaxy S7 currently, which also comes in the Edge variant. For Sony, instead of needing to market:
- Xperia X Family
- Xperia X
- Xperia XA
- Xperia X Performance
- Xperia C6 Family
- Xperia C6
- Xperia C6 Ultra
they can now hedge their bets on the X family branding and bring the phone under the same name.
This not only makes marketing for Sony easier as they’ll only have one brand to push, but it also helps to lower costs as well. Now Sony can plaster Xperia X across a billboard or a t-shirt and have it represent the entire product line, even if one territory is only getting the Xperia XA while another is getting the Xperia X and X Performance. Previously Sony would have to create and market the Xperia C5 in one territory and Xperia M5 or Z3 in another. Now the consumer will simply see Xperia X, much like they see iPhone.
In fact, one of Apple’s marketing campaigns for the past year has simply been ‘Shot on iPhone’ which applies just as much to the iPhone 6 as it does to the iPhone 6s or SE. From there, the specific model becomes a nuance of taste and/or budget. Sony’s recent packaging of the Xperia X also shares a similar story where Sony is finally learning a thing or two from Apple with a very clean and easy on the eye packaging for the Xperia X. None of this means that Sony is no longer focused on premium devices like the Z5 or that they’ve leaving behind water-proof mid-range devices. Instead, all those phones will simply exist under Xperia X.
Do you think it’s wise for Sony to bring all of their branding under Xperia X?
[Via ePrice TW]