“Famous last words”, as some often say. Hiroki Totoki, who has been Sony Mobile’s head for little over than six months, boldly claimed that the company will never sell or exit its mobile business, despite prophecies of doom early this year. That might not be a surprising claim, considering what business Totoki is leading, but it is something that needs more than just words to inspire confidence. The mobile CEO asks for a bit of patience this year and to look forward to a huge turnaround by 2016 instead.
2015 is a year of transition, says Totoki. After all, he only took the reins November last year. All management, operations, and financial changes are only starting to take effect this year, which gimps their ability to put out completely new and innovative products. He also blames the dreary outlook for the company’s mobile business to circumstances. It just finished its acquisition of Ericsson’s share in the former Sony Ericsson company, which they had to write down as a loss. Then came the speculation early this year that the company could also sell its mobile as well as its TV business in the same fashion that its sold off its VAIO PC business.
Totoki isn’t making any claims for the TV part, but as for mobile, he is confident that the company can turn it around by next year. Unlike PCs, smartphones have become an integral part of everyday life, says the CEO. And it’s only going to get even more so in the future. It isn’t something that it can simply just ignore and sell off without digging its own grave. As far as he’s concerned, smartphones are here to say, and so will Sony’s mobile business.
Totoki’s hints about the future are just as interesting. He emphasizes that the way to differentiate will be through user experiences. Hardware is relatively easy and Chinese manufacturer’s, once stigmatized by substandard components, are getting it right and changing the game. If hardware is mostly similar across devices, then the one with the best user experience wins. Ironically, Sony’s smartphone software experience isn’t exactly the most memorable one aside from a few value-added services thanks to Sony’s digital content empire. User experience then presents the company with the biggest avenue for growth and also the biggest challenge.
That said, hardware is also where Sony is stumbling all around lately. Once its pride, its mobile camera sensors have just been one upped by Samsung, at least based on DXOMark’s finding. Although it has an upper hand in display technology, it has so far failed to considerably upgrade its flagship smartphones’ screens. And the Xperia Z4 Snapdragon 810 fiasco just proved that even hardware isn’t easy to get perfect and could, and does, detrimentally affect user experience. All in all, Sony Mobile has a long and challenging road ahead.
But Sony is sticking to its own mobile guns for another reason. The industry is slowly but surely moving toward the Internet of Things. A consumer electronics company at heart, it is understandable the Sony would also want to jump on the train. Considering that, in almost all cases, all these small bits and pieces of IoT devices are coordinated by a smartphone, then it also makes sense for Sony to continue to invest in mobile. That is at least until a new CEO begins singing a different tune.
SOURCE: Arabian Business