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Report: Sony mulling high-end smartphone focus


Steve Costello

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Sony may stop making entry-level smartphones in order to focus on its premium products, according to a CNET report.

Stephen Sneeden, Xperia product marketing manager for the recovering device maker, said: “We’re ready to be a premium smartphone provider, logically then, at the very entry level is where you lose the ‘Sonyness’. And [if] it’s where you cannot implement some of these wonderful things from Sony at such a low cost, we might leave the very entry tier to some other manufacturers.”

The recovering handset maker is not the first company to focus on the premium segment: Apple is the most obvious proponent of this strategy, and arguably Sony has the right brand positioning with its other products (including PCs and televisions) to carry this off.

While in its earlier guise as Sony Ericsson the vendor (briefly) held a position among the top three vendors by volume, it was one of many to struggle with the transition to smartphones – despite being an early adopter of Symbian OS, and also having Windows Mobile devices in its portfolio at one stage.

According to the report, the intention is not for the vendor to solely target the high end, but instead to shift away from the entry-level smartphone space.

This is indeed a fiercely competitive space, with Nokia, Samsung, ZTE and Huawei all active in this space, alongside a raft of tier-two players – leading to severe price pressure.

But the premium market is no easier: with the exception of Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S line, vendors have often struggled to gain momentum for the highly-specified products as well.

In the coming months, Sony will face competition from Nokia’s latest Lumia devices (which have something of a headstart), RIM’s next-generation BlackBerrys, and anticipated new flagships from Samsung and HTC.

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