Sony outlined its three-year corporate strategy last month and with it a strong emphasis that the Mobile business was not a key growth factor. It also confirmed that it will “continue to explore potential alliances with other companies”. That brought a lot of eulogies for Sony Mobile from the media, talking about the end of a journey and the Xperia brand.
Well, Sony took multiple opportunities at MWC to completely refute suggestions that the division is up for sale. First of all, Sony’s Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai said the following to the BBC when referring to Mobile: “We need to keep a closer eye on the return on capital, what the competition is doing… But that’s not to say we’re getting out of the business.”
Secondly, the Sony Mobile head Hiroki Totoki said that speculation regarding a sale of the division was “completely untrue,” when speaking to French newspaper Le Figaro. Totoki pointed out that Kazuo Hirai’s presence at MWC emphasised “the importance of this business for Sony“. He also confirmed plans to refocus the product strategy and to slow down the rhythm of new product launches.
Much of this is a red herring though. As we pointed out above, Sony’s initial comments around the business talked about “potential alliances with other companies”, which would most likely refer to partnerships or a joint venture. There has been no change of stance in this regard and Sony is very likely to be exploring all opportunities.
Hiroki Totoki also revealed some interesting insights whilst speaking to The Wall Street Journal. Totoki said that he wanted to “redefine how people communicate” and that he wants the mobile division to “become a meaningful source of profit to the group”.
He even emphasised that the division’s future could lie in software. “Communication used to be mainly over voice but now people use photos and stickers. We won’t tie ourselves only to smartphones or even hardware,” said Totoki
Totoki also said that Sony will focus more on design and ergonomics rather than having the latest specs: “What we have learned from our long experience in the consumer electronics business is that consumers want details that you can’t deliver by just simply assembling powerful parts”.
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