Many people wondered what the demise of Samsung and their Galaxy Note 7 fiasco would mean for the greater mobile market and more specifically Android. Some had predicted that it might be the newly launched Google Pixel that would sweep up users left behind or Apple with iPhone 7 (something that Tim Cook himself denied). Well according to a new study by Apteligent Data, it was actually Sony and the Xperia XZ that benefited the most.
As you can see from the graph above, as the Galaxy Note 7 began to be recalled and sales nose dived, it was the Xperia XZ that saw a big uptick in sales during the second half of 2016. That rise seems even more dramatic if we take the Note 7 out of the equation all together.
While this sounds good for Sony and I’m not arguing it’s not, the overall effects of it are still unknown. Part of the problem with the above graphs is that they lack any form of quantity, think of them as Jeff Bezos charts, where things just go up. I’ve argued many times that the following two quarters for Sony Mobile will likely determine their 2018 plans and Samsung’s troubles may help keep the mobile division chugging for a bit longer.
Sony’s 2017 sales figures will determine if this particular situation was just an outlier with Xperia sales reverting back to their decline or if there was truly a shift in the market with consumers moving onto other brands like Sony. After all, it’s not like there won’t be a Galaxy 8 Note or whatever Samsung will call it in 2017 which could have this entire trend revert back towards Samsung being the dominating player.
It’s also worth pointing out that this is all really just a blip. As you can see from the graph above, Samsung continues to dominate the Android space with Sony, HTC, and LG failing to crack the top 10 list for 2016. It’s also unfortunate that Sony was given this opportunity to capitalize on the Galaxy Note 7 and didn’t really do much about it. Any uptick we’re seeing in sales for Sony, although it’s welcome, has little to do with Sony kicking marketing and promotions into overdrive and more to do with the Xperia XZ offering the next best solution and consumers choosing it on their own.
If it appears that I’m being pessimistic on the outcome, it’s because I still see this as a wasted opportunity for Sony. As I wrote in October:
With Samsung now out of the picture and without a flagship phone till next year, where the hell is Sony Mobile and their marketing? I’ve never been a fan of Samsung’s anti-iPhone tactics and in fact, I never favor marketing that needs to drag a competitor down or ‘poke fun at them’ in order to make gains or make themselves look good. For Samsung, it’s a matter of karma and clearly it’s a bitch.
So when I say where is Sony’s marketing, I don’t mean marketing at the expense of Samsung and mean marketing in the sense that there is a clear hole in the Android ecosystem – a vacuum that needs to be filled. While names like LG, HTC, and hell Pixel might mean something to you and I, for the mass majority of consumers, they don’t mean as much. A name that does however invoke some kind of emotion, trust, and/or recognition is Sony.
What better time for Sony to step up and announce to the world the Xperia XZ and tout its waterproof design, or high-end camera? What better time to show off the Xperia XA Ultra, a phablet phone with a price much lower than what the Note 7 was? Neither of those phones were designed to compete directly with the Note 7 but that’s ok. I highly doubt consumers wanted everything Samsung offered and so much of what the Note 7 had with its “retina eye scanner” to unlock the device was just a gimmick. Remember that previously Samsung tried to control the pause/play feature with similar technology.
That sentiment still stands. Do you think this uptick in sales can actually be attributed to something Sony is doing or is it merely the right product at the right time?