Jan 11 AT 4:44 PM Dustin Earley 53 Comments

Sony looking to back away from entry-level smartphones, focus on premium

sony xperia z power button

Sony is a company with a legacy of quality. From Trinitron to Walkman, from PlayStation to Cyber-shot. Somewhere, during the race to saturate the smartphone market with as many devices as possible, Sony lost its way. Xperia has yet to make the same impact previous Sony electronics have. But it’s not over yet. Sony Xperia product marketing manager Stephen Sneeden recently sat down with CNET Asia to discuss where Sony mobile is headed, and how they plan to get there.

The goal for Sony is simple: They want to be a premium smartphone provider. And they know just how to do it. Sony plans to create a more unified product portfolio in services, quality and industrial design. In order to do this, the first step is going to be backing away from low-end entry level products and focusing on premium devices.

We're ready to be a premium smartphone provider, logically then, at the very entry level is where you lose the 'Sonyness'. And 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.Stephen SneedenSony

Sneeden continued on to talk about how Sony “cannot compromise on the experience that the company is trying to show to the customer” and how, if the company does create hardware to be sold at a lower price point, it needs to make an impact.

Currently sitting in third place in global smartphone sales, Sony has a long road ahead of it. The Sony roadmap is a realistic one though, giving the company two years to make the transition to an exclusively premium manufacturer.

To summarize Sony’s new approach to mobile in an elegant way, you only have to bring up Sneeden’s remarks on the unique power button featured on the Xperia Z unveiled at CES. He wants consumers to be able to recognize Sony products based on the power button alone. If that doesn’t sound like a company with renewed focus on making smartphones that we’ll still talk about years from now, I don’t know what does.

Source: CNET Asia

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • co.ag.2005

    Sony still hasn’t made a phone to lure me to their brand (even though their CES options were very appealing) but I like where they are heading. I wouldn’t mind purchasing a quality Sony handset down the road if they do indeed focus on this premium “legacy”

    • Inacio

      My gf recently bought an Xperia P. It’s a mid-range phone, but the build is absolutely fantastic, unlocking bootloader and rooting is easy, and Jelly Bean is coming soon.
      Did I mention it looks crazy good?

      • sylv3rblade

        I hope you don’t hold on to that SOON promise.

    • kim

      If this phone doesnt lure you to sony, nothing ever will.sony is back.look out samsung and apple

  • http://varemenos.com/ Varemenos

    i had an Xperia phone once, never again.

    • co.ag.2005

      what happened? or what was the issue?

    • REPUBLICAN PRIDE

      Pony tra$h phones, as usual from asia. You cant trust the pearl bombers. I heard the recent japan airlines 787 screamliner burning because of some kind of revenge. Rumors.
      Pony to back way? Good.

      • gmaninvan

        Wow, what a bigotted and ignorant statement.

      • Panflute

        Typical Republican assholes.

        • kazahani

          Really? Can you not see that he is an obvious troll? You are palying right into his little troll hands.

      • Bpear96

        I know this comment isn’t really needed. But The ratio of Japanese to American killing was 5 to 1 before the bombing of Hiroshima. Which personally I don’t think was justified. War is fought by soldiers and not by killing innocent civilians.

        • Bpear96

          So who’s the bad guy ?

      • sncrmck

        It’s almost funny how stuff like this manages to make it on a website about phones. WOW

        • rh

          Godwin’s Law

        • gmaninvan

          Good to see people have downrated it into oblivion.

  • Meister_Li

    I really do like the Sony phone’s feel and design. The main problem I have with their phones is that they’re often times too late. They announce a phone, and it looks quite good at the time of announcement, but when it comes out, it’s already outdated. Additionally, their Updates are still a little spotty, even tho it got a lot better, and the locked bootloaders when buying the phone on contract are an absolute killer for me. Additonally additonally, I am still miffled that the Playstation Pocket Service isn’t available in my country still (Ireland)

    Still, if they manage to fix this, I’d love to get one on my new contract in April

    • squib

      I completely agree, they make some great looking phones. If only there was a Sony Nexus device :/

      • co.ag.2005

        now, I’d buy that one in a heart beat!

      • ken

        Sony ps nexus phone w/ control’s and qwerty board would be awesome

  • Ardrid

    This is an approach I honestly think HTC needs to take if they want to return to profitability. They simply don’t have the resources to saturate the market with numerous devices. One halo device on multiple carriers is the way to go.

    • Dustin Earley

      I don’t care what kind of resources your company has, this is the approach every manufacturer should take no matter what.

  • redraider133

    I think this is the right approach to take. Can’t wait to see what else they unveil in the coming months.

  • Heetskore

    I had an xperia play once. I chucked it against a wall it was so awful.

    • Peyton Manning & Carrie Underwood

      Agree, Sony sux big time

  • gmaninvan

    I am on board Sony. The new Xperia Z is probably the nicest looking phone I have ever seen and I applaud you for using the on screen navigation.

    Now, next step, make a frickin Nexus!!

    • epps720

      Never thought I would say this but that power button is beautiful.

      • gmaninvan

        Ya, it is a nice design that they say is going to be a hallmark going forward on all flagships. It is actually quite clever. It adds a unique look that, going forward, will make their product instantly identifiable as a Sony.

  • damambt

    FCK Yeah!

  • Wally

    Sexiest phone ever. Bar none.

  • Bryn

    Honestly, I don’t especially like this idea, especially given that it seems as though most of their phone sales come from the lower end. Check import websites – Sony’s phones sell fantastically when they’re priced lower than the competition, even with inferior specifications. The Xperia S is going for $350 on YesAsia, for instance, and it’s one of their top selling phones. They’ve also used the lower end to experiment – the Sola and the Go for instance were two unique, cheaper products with interesting selling points, and didn’t do anything to dilute the brand. Downscale all they want to be sure, but at least keep some options open at the lower end, or at the very least continue to innovate in the premium market.

    • LittleDebbie11

      The Xperia S was their flagship phone & I think it proves that this is the right choice. If they are always releasing top devices, their old model simply becomes the low end phone, & you still get top quality. Whenever I choose cheap phones for my family, I always look at old flagship phones, the experience is always better than the churned out phones that the manufacturers take 5 mins to work on.

  • http://None Javier Bastardo

    Sony is quality and handsomeness in the looks, I’m still mad at them for not upgrading my Sola to JellyBean, but my next phone is probably going to be a top-of-the-line Sony, or better yet, what some of us have been expecting, a Sony Xperia Nexus.

  • Guy who hates 47% of all american people….

    I remember when Sony betrayed everyone with the Paystation 3. Never bought anything from these crooks again. Whenever they report a(nother) loss-making fiscal year, it puts a huge smile on my face :D :D :D

  • westy

    it took how long for you to figure this out? How many failed devices and shitty reviews?

  • Jorge Vieira

    About time. Hopefully ill get a chance to finally have a great Sony phone this year.

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

    If they concentrate on just a couple premium phones, they have very few excuses not to provide timely updates, and they will have even less excuses not to provide updates to older phones. Find a way to sell their phones, unmodified on all carriers, pledge to update their phones within certain time frames after Google releases an update, and pledge to provide OS updates for at least certain number of years. No other OEMs have done that. If Sony can do that, they will win some hard core Android fans back, and they will recommend Sony’s phones to less tech savvy friends.

  • Dr.Carpy

    This is what I hope more manufacturers would do. Focus on making a great premium product and thus ensuring the product’s quality.Nothing feels worse than paying a premium price for a less than premium product. I hope that Sony prices this phone well, and leaves exclusivity to Apple and the iPhone.

  • jamal adam

    A great strategy and one that I think will benefit them. Sony has always been great with hardware and the Xperia Z is one such great device. I think they will also need to better market/advertise their devices as well.

  • donger

    Sony needs a ground breaking phone.

    • kim

      Hello, what do you think this is?

  • ionorov

    Sony’s designs have always been top-notch… just that they usually make bone-headed corporate decisions about their products that ends up dragging them down.

    PSV = awesome but expensive propriety memory.
    past xperias = gorgeous designs…. using last year’s chips.
    etc… etc…

    The Xperia V is a step in the right direction.

  • Ichi_Bear

    My first Android smartphone was a Sony Xperia. They do make good looking devices. The battery life was terrible though and the OS updates were….. sketchy. I’d probably by a Nexus branded Sony. I’m not a fan of fixed batteries and I do like to have the option of SD card expansion….. So maybe not :-\

  • Nathan D.

    I wouldn’t have it any other way

  • RonWeez

    It’s really about time every manufacturer does this. Make one or two entry level phones and then have your premium flagship phone instead of flooding the market with old outdated hardware and software

  • cb2000a

    Sony lost their way because they never listened to their customers. Even in 1990 it was the Sony way or the highway when it came to broadcast equipment (I was in production at that time). Their competition did listen to the customers and now Sony is in trouble.

    Oh BTW a $600 HD camcorder, $1000 computer, and $100 software will blow away what we used in broadcast in 1990 that cost over $200,000.

  • anonymous Mr Tim T.

    Peyton Lemming just threw a huge lemon/ interception. This man is old, drop him. Old fart. Loser.

  • dmutie

    finally can get rid of my samsung device

  • mlynch01

    This is a beautiful device and would be great for Android if Sony can get there act together and put out a worldwide success of a smart phone. Would be nice to have a company with the resources of Sony have huge success on Android.

    • kim

      They will with this phone.it may even outsell the s4

  • alexanderharri3

    Sony needs to realize the importance of launching with the current version of android, and updating flagship. Until they can do that, they have a major uphill climb to success.

  • http://nickvettesephotography.com Nicholas Vettese

    Personally, I think that the Android MFGs should begin to shy away from the low end market. There are enough players in the field for this, and it is time to begin building their brands through real, formidable, products. I hope that this works for Sony, as they make some really nice products.

  • smeghead68

    Very nice power button, good looking phone, now just need it to be a Nexus.

  • KRS_Won

    More manufacturers should only focus on high end phones and let last year’s model be the entry level. Updates would be a lot easier to keep up with. And low end phones normally have last year’s specs anyways. Why go through all that manufacturing of a new product, when they could just keep producing the last model cheaper and send it a software update to make people happy and give a better company image. Another company rolls out millions of phones with this business model.
    It hurts phone sales/Android image a think to sell a new product that can not take full advantage of new features / games / apps. When it has last year’s specs anyways. It’s much more brand conscious to just say this is last year’s model, it’s cheaper, but isn’t totally capable.
    But honestly, I think most manufacturers are just getting to the point where hardware is consistent enough to keep producing.
    Manufacturers should be taking advantage of where Android shines, and make different forms factors though. A standard 4.3″ with a small bezel, a slider (with current specs, they always seem to be a step down, womp womp), and a HD model (720 was in, but now 1080 seems to be the trend.) And I guess a few numbers of phablets, although every company shouldn’t pursue this, just let the couple that are successful stick with it, the others should focus on improving their current line up.

  1. Sony still hasn’t made a phone to lure me to their brand (even though their CES options were very appealing) but I like where they are heading. I wouldn’t mind purchasing a quality Sony handset down the road if they do indeed focus on this premium “legacy”

    • InacioGuest 2 years ago

      My gf recently bought an Xperia P. It’s a mid-range phone, but the build is absolutely fantastic, unlocking bootloader and rooting is easy, and Jelly Bean is coming soon.
      Did I mention it looks crazy good?

      • sylv3rbladeGuest 2 years ago

        I hope you don’t hold on to that SOON promise.

    • kimGuest 2 years ago

      If this phone doesnt lure you to sony, nothing ever will.sony is back.look out samsung and apple

  2. i had an Xperia phone once, never again.

    • what happened? or what was the issue?

    • REPUBLICAN PRIDEGuest 2 years ago

      Pony tra$h phones, as usual from asia. You cant trust the pearl bombers. I heard the recent japan airlines 787 screamliner burning because of some kind of revenge. Rumors.
      Pony to back way? Good.

      • Wow, what a bigotted and ignorant statement.

      • PanfluteGuest 2 years ago

        Typical Republican assholes.

        • Really? Can you not see that he is an obvious troll? You are palying right into his little troll hands.

      • I know this comment isn’t really needed. But The ratio of Japanese to American killing was 5 to 1 before the bombing of Hiroshima. Which personally I don’t think was justified. War is fought by soldiers and not by killing innocent civilians.

      • It’s almost funny how stuff like this manages to make it on a website about phones. WOW

  3. I really do like the Sony phone’s feel and design. The main problem I have with their phones is that they’re often times too late. They announce a phone, and it looks quite good at the time of announcement, but when it comes out, it’s already outdated. Additionally, their Updates are still a little spotty, even tho it got a lot better, and the locked bootloaders when buying the phone on contract are an absolute killer for me. Additonally additonally, I am still miffled that the Playstation Pocket Service isn’t available in my country still (Ireland)

    Still, if they manage to fix this, I’d love to get one on my new contract in April

    • I completely agree, they make some great looking phones. If only there was a Sony Nexus device :/

  4. This is an approach I honestly think HTC needs to take if they want to return to profitability. They simply don’t have the resources to saturate the market with numerous devices. One halo device on multiple carriers is the way to go.

    • I don’t care what kind of resources your company has, this is the approach every manufacturer should take no matter what.

  5. I think this is the right approach to take. Can’t wait to see what else they unveil in the coming months.

  6. HeetskoreGuest 2 years ago

    I had an xperia play once. I chucked it against a wall it was so awful.

    • Peyton Manning & Carrie UnderwoodGuest 2 years ago

      Agree, Sony sux big time

  7. I am on board Sony. The new Xperia Z is probably the nicest looking phone I have ever seen and I applaud you for using the on screen navigation.

    Now, next step, make a frickin Nexus!!

    • Never thought I would say this but that power button is beautiful.

      • Ya, it is a nice design that they say is going to be a hallmark going forward on all flagships. It is actually quite clever. It adds a unique look that, going forward, will make their product instantly identifiable as a Sony.

  8. WallyGuest 2 years ago

    Sexiest phone ever. Bar none.

  9. BrynGuest 2 years ago

    Honestly, I don’t especially like this idea, especially given that it seems as though most of their phone sales come from the lower end. Check import websites – Sony’s phones sell fantastically when they’re priced lower than the competition, even with inferior specifications. The Xperia S is going for $350 on YesAsia, for instance, and it’s one of their top selling phones. They’ve also used the lower end to experiment – the Sola and the Go for instance were two unique, cheaper products with interesting selling points, and didn’t do anything to dilute the brand. Downscale all they want to be sure, but at least keep some options open at the lower end, or at the very least continue to innovate in the premium market.

    • LittleDebbie11Guest 2 years ago

      The Xperia S was their flagship phone & I think it proves that this is the right choice. If they are always releasing top devices, their old model simply becomes the low end phone, & you still get top quality. Whenever I choose cheap phones for my family, I always look at old flagship phones, the experience is always better than the churned out phones that the manufacturers take 5 mins to work on.

  10. Sony is quality and handsomeness in the looks, I’m still mad at them for not upgrading my Sola to JellyBean, but my next phone is probably going to be a top-of-the-line Sony, or better yet, what some of us have been expecting, a Sony Xperia Nexus.

  11. Guy who hates 47% of all american people....Guest 2 years ago

    I remember when Sony betrayed everyone with the Paystation 3. Never bought anything from these crooks again. Whenever they report a(nother) loss-making fiscal year, it puts a huge smile on my face :D :D :D

  12. westyGuest 2 years ago

    it took how long for you to figure this out? How many failed devices and shitty reviews?

  13. About time. Hopefully ill get a chance to finally have a great Sony phone this year.

  14. If they concentrate on just a couple premium phones, they have very few excuses not to provide timely updates, and they will have even less excuses not to provide updates to older phones. Find a way to sell their phones, unmodified on all carriers, pledge to update their phones within certain time frames after Google releases an update, and pledge to provide OS updates for at least certain number of years. No other OEMs have done that. If Sony can do that, they will win some hard core Android fans back, and they will recommend Sony’s phones to less tech savvy friends.

  15. This is what I hope more manufacturers would do. Focus on making a great premium product and thus ensuring the product’s quality.Nothing feels worse than paying a premium price for a less than premium product. I hope that Sony prices this phone well, and leaves exclusivity to Apple and the iPhone.

  16. A great strategy and one that I think will benefit them. Sony has always been great with hardware and the Xperia Z is one such great device. I think they will also need to better market/advertise their devices as well.

  17. Sony needs a ground breaking phone.

    • kimGuest 2 years ago

      Hello, what do you think this is?

  18. Sony’s designs have always been top-notch… just that they usually make bone-headed corporate decisions about their products that ends up dragging them down.

    PSV = awesome but expensive propriety memory.
    past xperias = gorgeous designs…. using last year’s chips.
    etc… etc…

    The Xperia V is a step in the right direction.

  19. My first Android smartphone was a Sony Xperia. They do make good looking devices. The battery life was terrible though and the OS updates were….. sketchy. I’d probably by a Nexus branded Sony. I’m not a fan of fixed batteries and I do like to have the option of SD card expansion….. So maybe not :-\

  20. I wouldn’t have it any other way

  21. It’s really about time every manufacturer does this. Make one or two entry level phones and then have your premium flagship phone instead of flooding the market with old outdated hardware and software

  22. Sony lost their way because they never listened to their customers. Even in 1990 it was the Sony way or the highway when it came to broadcast equipment (I was in production at that time). Their competition did listen to the customers and now Sony is in trouble.

    Oh BTW a $600 HD camcorder, $1000 computer, and $100 software will blow away what we used in broadcast in 1990 that cost over $200,000.

  23. anonymous Mr Tim T.Guest 2 years ago

    Peyton Lemming just threw a huge lemon/ interception. This man is old, drop him. Old fart. Loser.

  24. finally can get rid of my samsung device

  25. This is a beautiful device and would be great for Android if Sony can get there act together and put out a worldwide success of a smart phone. Would be nice to have a company with the resources of Sony have huge success on Android.

    • kimGuest 2 years ago

      They will with this phone.it may even outsell the s4

  26. Sony needs to realize the importance of launching with the current version of android, and updating flagship. Until they can do that, they have a major uphill climb to success.

  27. Personally, I think that the Android MFGs should begin to shy away from the low end market. There are enough players in the field for this, and it is time to begin building their brands through real, formidable, products. I hope that this works for Sony, as they make some really nice products.

  28. Very nice power button, good looking phone, now just need it to be a Nexus.

  29. More manufacturers should only focus on high end phones and let last year’s model be the entry level. Updates would be a lot easier to keep up with. And low end phones normally have last year’s specs anyways. Why go through all that manufacturing of a new product, when they could just keep producing the last model cheaper and send it a software update to make people happy and give a better company image. Another company rolls out millions of phones with this business model.
    It hurts phone sales/Android image a think to sell a new product that can not take full advantage of new features / games / apps. When it has last year’s specs anyways. It’s much more brand conscious to just say this is last year’s model, it’s cheaper, but isn’t totally capable.
    But honestly, I think most manufacturers are just getting to the point where hardware is consistent enough to keep producing.
    Manufacturers should be taking advantage of where Android shines, and make different forms factors though. A standard 4.3″ with a small bezel, a slider (with current specs, they always seem to be a step down, womp womp), and a HD model (720 was in, but now 1080 seems to be the trend.) And I guess a few numbers of phablets, although every company shouldn’t pursue this, just let the couple that are successful stick with it, the others should focus on improving their current line up.