Sony has been on a decline since 2008, but with their recent profits and new found love from the Android community, Sony may rise to the top of the mobile market, but only if they want it bad enough.
Sony is expected to make $400 million in profit for 2012, which is a lot for a company that has been in decline since 2008. Last year Sony went under a major restructuring of the company, and it seems it may have paid off. The company has also become a lot friendlier towards developers lately, for the PlayStation division, but also for the mobile division.
The latest Sony Xperia S and Sony Xperia Z flagships have proven this, as Sony has been working on porting the AOSP project to these devices, making their devices very developer friendly. The PlayStation indie developers have also said that Sony is much easier to work with than with “corporate Microsoft”, when talking about the upcoming next-gen consoles.
Clearly, Sony is taking some steps in the right direction, and they seem to have set their ambitions on beating Samsung in the mobile market. I think that’s a worthy goal, and I believe it can be done, but Sony needs to be quicker about raising some standards in regards to their products.
Sony’s Current Problems
They’ve improved a lot of things in the past few years, but their competitors are moving quicker than them, so they need to be not just as fast as them, but faster, to catch-up.
Sony’s Xperia products are not bad in terms in designs, and I definitely prefer them to Samsung’s designs, but I know they can do even better. They could have the best designs on the market if they really tried. They could also use more colors in their designs, like Nokia does it, and they could use better build materials.
The glass they are using right now in devices does give their devices a more premium look and feel, but I don’t think glass is the right choice of material for smartphones and tablets in the long term, unless they manage to make it super tough and make it brittle very little, and not crack at all when dropped even on concrete. At the end of the day, I think some kind of metal is still the best way to go, especially for smartphones (the increase in weight might not be worth it for tablets).
Sony also needs to improve the quality of the components they are using in smartphones. The cameras they sell to others like Apple and Samsung always seem to be better in their devices than in Sony’s own devices, although that’s most likely a software/driver issue that Sony hasn’t fixed yet.
Their displays also seem pretty far behind the competition. Samsung and HTC are improving their displays significantly every year, like they did for the Galaxy S4 and HTC One, but Sony seems to be using displays that look like they are from 2011 quality wise.
Something that has always bugged me about Sony is that they always seem to use processors that are half a year old on the market. When HTC or Samsung release a new phone, they always get the tech media and their readers excited with some brand new chip that only they are using at the time of shipping.
That’s never been the case with Sony. For example, if HTC is the first with the Qualcomm Snapdragon S600 in March, Sony would use the S600 sometime this fall, around the time when others might already be moving to the Qualcomm Snapdragon S800 chip. Sony’s goal should be for them to be the first ones to use the Snapdragon S800 this year, or Nvidia Tegra 5 next year, or some other exciting chip that the consumers want to see in their devices.
The biggest improvement Sony could do in their mobile division, is to make everything happen a lot faster, and try to have a lot of “firsts” when their new devices are launched. That’s what usually gets consumers excited, and their products talked about.
They should also keep paying attention to the feedback people are giving them online. Sure, some of those comments might be “trolling”, but overall, the commenters who criticize companies the most are also those who are the most disappointed in what the company has launched, and if the company would’ve done what they are asking, they might’ve converted them into customers, and evangelists for their products. If Sony wants to beat Samsung for the #1 position in the smartphone market, they need to listen to what the people want from them.