There are a few smartphone makers that struggle year after year but refuse to throw in the towel. Sony is perhaps one of the longest-running among those. Many have already prophesied, even called for, the demise of its mobile business but by confirming its MWC 2018 press conference, it is reaffirming its commitment to smartphones. The reason for that commitment that chief executive Kaz Hirai gives, however, might make you scratch your head even more.
After an initial period of fame and success, Sony’s smartphones have seemingly been left by the wayside, pushed out of the race by rivals like Apple, Samsung, and a host of Chinese brands. Its design has changed very little over the years and, apparently, that might be because of the philosophy of Sony president and CEO Hirai.
Hirai is credited for patching up what was regarded to be a fast-sinking ship and turning it around. In addition to his hands-on approach, he also had a few principles that he implanted in Sony’s culture. One is to aim for an emotional response rather than a technical one. The other is not to change a winning design every year for the sake of changing it. That is how he believes they can create emotional value.
That philosophy may not completely apply to the fast-paced smartphone industry but, as can be seen by year after year of Xperia phones, it is one that the company’s mobile business lives by. Sony has no qualms that the business isn’t doing well but Hirai has no intention of letting go. And it’s not because he’s a firm believer that the smartphone is the future. Instead, it’s because he sees the smartphone as their ticket in the communications space.
“The reason we’re doing that is not because we think smartphones are the future, but because we have to have some devices connected to a network in order to communicate. If we get out of the [communications] space, we won’t have the opportunity to play in the next paradigm shift.”
“It’s not about the smartphones of today; it’s more about looking beyond smartphones – at what are we going to be doing – and to be a player in this space; ideally to be a leader. For that strategic reason, I want to make sure we stay, not in the smartphone business, per se, but in the communications business.”
On 26th February, at 08:30 CET, Sony will be holding a press conference at MWC 2018 in Barcelona, where it is expected to announce, among other things, a new Xperia XZ Pro, which, if the rumors are true, might be its most radical change in smartphone design yet.
SOURCE: The Guardian