Smartphones 'necessary' to make a brand sustainable

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In a statement that seems to hit home compared to Microsoft's half-hearted investment in, and then wind down of, Windows 10 Mobile, Sony's CEO has said that 'Sony Corp sees the smartphone business as indispensable to its brand portfolio', bucking calls from some investors that 'the Japanese electronics firm should scrap the money-losing business'.

From the Reuters report: (my emphasis)

The (Sony) smartphone business reported an operating loss of 97.1 billion yen ($879.45 million) in the year ended March, lagging rivals such as Apple and Samsung Electronics and weighing on the group’s record-breaking profit.

Sony’s consumer electronics hardware business “has centered on entertainment since our foundation, not daily necessities like refrigerators and washing machines,” Kenichiro Yoshida told a group of journalists on Wednesday.

“We see smartphones as hardware for entertainment and a component necessary to make our hardware brand sustainable,” he said. “And younger generations no longer watch TV. Their first touch point is smartphone.”

The business, originally a joint venture with Sweden’s Ericsson that Sony took full control of in 2012, has a global market share of less than 1%, shipping just 6.5 million handsets annually, mainly to Japan and Europe, according to Sony’s financial statement.

Which is what I've been saying for years, most notably here and here. Without a smartphone component in their product line, ideally both hardware AND software, Microsoft can't compete in the global consumer marketplace. A little extra Office and OneDrive revenue here and there from iOS and Android users doesn't make up for the gaping hole in their vision.

It doesn't matter if such a phone division loses money. Sony's has been losing money for years and we see tha statement above. It's 'necessary' for the entire brand to make sense. Ditto Google, which is keeping going with its Pixel line of Android phones, even though these sell in relatively low numbers. Again, it's not about making a profit, it's about being present in the dominant hardware scene of our age.

It's too late now, of course. Maybe with the abject failure (so far) of the Samsung Fold and the massive uncertainty over Huawei's (also folding) Mate X, just maybe there's time to press ahead with all Microsoft's research and release that Surface Phone/Mobile running Windows 10 on ARM after all? 

Strangers things have happened!

Source / Credit: Reuters