Sony Mobile in trouble, silently exiting Southeast Asia

Sony has recently reaffirmed its commitment to the mobile market but which market that will be is now the question. Year after year, the former smartphone giant has failed not only to make profits but even to leave a lasting good impression. Now rumors are again circulating that Sony might be withdrawing from certain markets like Southeast Asia and the Middle East where it faces stiff competition from Chinese manufacturers.

It's not exactly surprising. Sony has already been winding down its sales and operations in those regions, albeit rather silently. It has reportedly closed one of its official Malaysian stores and references to its smartphones have been removed from the country's website. There are similar reports coming from other markets like Singapore and even the Middle East but not all. Sony continues to have some stores open in the Philippines, for example.

Sony Mobile's business strategy may never have been a good fit for the region in the first place. Sony Xperia phones have always been priced as high or even higher than the competition, despite having features below those tiers. Sony has also traditionally been seen more as a brand for serious business, partly due to its old design but it has recently tried aiming for younger crowds. Too little, too late perhaps.

Sony has repeatedly been rumored to be exiting markets, especially emerging ones, just as it had closed up shop in the US a few years back. It could continue to sell its phones in those markets via retailers like Amazon. But without a strong and visible presence, it could well be on its way to obscurity and irrelevance.