Sony banks on mobile division for growth in PH

Sony Mobile Philippines executives with the latest Xperia smartphones. Photo by Alora Uy Guerrero/

MANILA, Philippines — Japanese electronics brand Sony is looking to further strengthen its growth prospects in the Philippines with the return of its mobile division to the mother company, completing its “four-screen strategy” for consumer gadgets, executives revealed recently.

At the formal unveiling of Sony Mobile Communications Philippines on Wednesday, the Sony Philippines’ President and Managing Director Takao Kuroda said they are expecting mobile phones to uplift the financial status of the Philippine subsidiary.

“Majority of our products are network-ready. End-users mostly use their mobile phones, so the integration of Sony Mobile into Sony is very beneficial for us,” Kuroda said.

Kuroda said that with more customers under their fold, “more profit” would be realized. Already, the Philippine subsidiary of Sony has bucked the $6.4-billion worth of losses globally, registering double-digit sales growth for the past three years.

Patrick Larraga, the new head of Sony’s mobile division, said the Philippines has historically been “one of the strongest markets for Sony,” especially in the mobile space since smartphone adoption has really grown over the years.

“The mobile phone is essential in our four-screen strategy: TV, laptop, tablet and smartphone,” Larraga said. “With Sony Mobile being a 100 percent subsidiary of Sony Philippines, we are able to position mobile more easily among the products offered by Sony Philippines.”

It will be remembered that in October last year, Sony moved to buy full control of the Sony Ericsson mobile phone venture, easing its 10-year partner Ericsson out of the joint venture for the price of $1.45 billion.

Sony Xperia S

Sony Xperia S

A ‘Sony’ look for mobile phones

With the mobile division now fully in Sony’s control, Kuroda said they are now able to integrate more of Sony’s trademark technologies into their mobile phones.

“We already have some kind of cooperation with Sony for our mobile phones before, but now it’s much easier for us to promote such kind of integration within the company,” the Sony Philippines President said.

“We possess an important distinction. No one else has the same range of product categories in combination with the magnitude of our entertainment services,” he added.

In fact, a number of Sony Ericsson’s mobile releases last year have already leveraged on the Japanese firms’ unique portfolio of consumer electronics: such as the PlayStation Portable integration into Sony Xperia Play; the Walkman integration into the W8 Android Walkman phone; and the integration of the Bravia display engine in last year’s flagship phone, the Xperia Arc S.

Sony Mobile’s Larraga, meanwhile, said such a close integration with the company that has deep brand equity among consumers proves to be their strongest point against a market saturated by other Android phone providers.

“The Sony brand brings a strong role into that differentiation,” Larraga said. “There will be a lot of synergies for us to completely provide a different consumer experience.”

Such integration is evident in the company’s new lineup of Xperia Android-powered smartphones, which not only integrated various Sony-exclusive technologies but design concepts as well.

The four phones unveiled on Tuesday — the Xperia S, Xperia P, Xperia U and Xperia sola — all have a similar but stylish brick-type design and unique transparent band at the bottom part of the handset, which is a deviation from the distinctly varied designs of Sony Ericsson’s smartphone lineup last year.

Sony Xperia Sola

Sony Xperia Sola

Full commitment to Android

Executives said that just like last year, they are fully committed to sticking it out with the Android mobile operating system, even as other vendors have slowly started considering adopting other platforms, such as Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.

The Xperia S, flagship phone in the Xperia NXT series, for example, marries the best features of Android with the unique hardware technologies of Sony into one device.

It is a PlayStation-certified smartphone, meaning it is capable of playing most PlayStation games designed for mobile device in its 4.3-inch display with the trademark Mobile BRAVIA Engine.

It has a high-definition screen, front and back cameras with the latter possessing a 12-megapixel sensor with Sony Exmor R technology, allowing it to take photos in just 1.5 seconds from standby mode.

The Xperia P, on the other hand, comes in a full aluminum unibody design and is the first phone that comes with a WhiteMagic display technology, which allows it to deliver the brightest viewing experience by adding white pixels to the normal red, green, and blue color display.

Meanwhile, the Xperia U is being positioned by Sony as the entertainment smartphone among the lineup, as it comes with xLoud and Sony 3D surround sound technology integrated into the music player, so “consumer can enjoy a crisp and loud sound experience.”

The Xperia U also allows users to stream music to wireless speakers with the help of DLNA technology.

“The transparent element on the phone also illuminates to match the color of photos in the gallery or the album art of music tracks currently playing,” it added.

The phone comes with a 5-megapixel camera, an HD-recording capability, and a 3.5-inch display also with the Mobile BRAVIA Engine.

Lastly, the Xperia sola is one of the most unique among the four, as it comes with a technology called “floating touch,” which allows the user to control certain parts of the screen just by hovering their finger over the display.

“Users [can] navigate the Web by hovering their finger above the screen so it acts like a moving cursor, without them having to actually touch the screen,” Sony said.

The Xperia sola has a 3.7-inch Reality Display with Mobile BRAVIA Engine, a 5-megapixel camera capable of HD video recording, and xLOUD and 3D surround sound audio technology.

The Xperia S has been available in the Philippines for some time now, and retails for about P27,990. The Xperia sola, executives said, will be available come May, while the Xperia P and the Xperia U can be bought from Sony stores nationwide by June. No price points have been revealed for the other phones just yet.