Special Feature: Sony Mobile
In February 2012, Sony consolidated Sony Mobile Communications AB* ("Sony Mobile"), manufacturer of Xperia™ smartphones, into a wholly-owned subsidiary, with the aim of combining Sony's innovative technologies, services, content and other assets with Sony Mobile's extensive capabilities in the mobile communications sphere and unleashing the power of Sony in the mobile business. Two months later, Sony's management unveiled "One Sony," an integrated management approach that seeks to draw on the strengths of the entire Sony Group and accelerate decision making to propel growth and create new value.
Sony Mobile has since taken additional, decisive steps to reinforce convergence of its mobile business. One such step was to revamp Sony Mobile's global development structure, which encompasses bases in Japan, Sweden and China. Another was to shift parts of Sony Mobile's global corporate headquarters functions from Sweden to Japan. In addition to enhancing Sony Mobile's operational capabilities, including time to market and supply chain management, these moves sought to accelerate integration with the wider Sony Group and reinforce Sony Mobile's development prowess by, for example, placing its Android™-based smartphones and tablets under the same development platform. These moves were also in line with Sony Mobile's basic strategy, which focuses on creating and delivering winning products, building sales and marketing success, and ensuring operational excellence in execution.
Such efforts quickly yielded exciting results in the form of two groundbreaking products. In January 2013, Sony Mobile unveiled its new flagship smartphone Xperia™ Z at International CES, a leading consumer electronics trade show held in Las Vegas. The following month, Sony Mobile announced the global availability of Xperia™ Tablet Z, and exhibited Xperia™ Z and Xperia™ Tablet Z at Mobile World Congress, the world's foremost mobile industry trade show, in Barcelona. Xperia™ Z was released in February, first in Japan and then in more than 60 other key markets. The Xperia™ Tablet Z soon followed. The response to both products has been outstanding.
"As president and CEO of Sony Mobile, my mission is to lead the creation of smartphones and tablets that inspire and delight users by incorporating products, user experiences and technology that only Sony can provide, such as signature applications for easy access to Sony's online network services and intuitive 'one-touch' connection with other devices.
Sony Mobile's goal is to provide innovative mobile products that bring together the best of Sony. Xperia™ Z and Xperia™ Tablet Z have given us a glimpse of the potential of Sony's new mobile business."
"Watch," "Listen," "Create," and "Play"
These models were developed with the aim of delivering four rich user experiences for consumers: "Watch," "Listen," "Create," and "Play." Users "Watch" through the Full HD display powered by Mobile Bravia Engine™ 2, which ensures lush and vivid colors and stunning video quality. One can "Listen," with the WALKMAN® app, which delivers rich, realistic sound. Through our camera module featuring a state-of-the-art Sony image sensor, anyone can "Create" by taking outstanding images and videos in all shooting conditions. And users can "Play" to their heart's content, by enjoying music, film and game content, and network services.
On becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony in February 2012, Sony Mobile strengthened ties with other Sony group companies to utilize Sony's portfolio of technologies, services and content. "There was cooperation and sharing before," says Akihiro Hiraiwa, General Manager of R&D at Sony Mobile's Program Management Office in Tokyo, "but it was limited for a number of reasons."
The "One Sony" approach changed this mentality by emphasizing awareness of a common identity and the importance of maximizing Group assets. The starting point for the development of Xperia™ Z and Xperia™ Tablet Z was to create products that embody that approach. "Sony's television, audio and digital imaging departments were generous with their technologies, and their engineers worked with us throughout the development process," Hiraiwa explains. "We also created an in-house organization to focus on incorporating Sony's unique identity and signature applications*," says Patrik Olsson, Vice President and Head of Apps & Services at Sony Mobile, "to push collaboration with other parts of Sony and bring the entire Sony experience to life in our products."
"Xperia™ Z and Xperia™ Tablet Z were milestones for us," Hiraiwa notes, "but they're just the beginning." Olsson concurs: "We've embarked on a journey to transform the entire Sony family into One Sony and Xperia™ devices are central to this effort. There is much, much more to come!"
* Camera, WALKMAN®, Album, Movie and Sony Entertainment Network applications
Sony is known the world over for cutting-edge electronics design. Sony Mobile enjoys a reputation for stylish mobile communications devices. Under "One Sony," experienced designers from Sony worked with their Sony Mobile counterparts to develop the OmniBalance design concept, which enables users to engage naturally with products in both portrait and landscape mode, and the devices are comfortable to hold and view from any angle.
Xperia™ Z represents the first application of OmniBalance design. The device's distinctive, minimalistic appearance has earned it a reputation as a premium smartphone boasting exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail. The overall image of the device is simple and sleek. High-end materials have been used throughout, including aluminum for the power and volume buttons and durable tempered glass for the front and back. Edges are subtly rounded. Surfaces are pure and flat with a smooth mirror-like finish, creating a unique color effect with reflective tones that adds depth and an element of surprise. The user interface is crisp and fresh, with a wide range of user-friendly features.
"Our goal is quite simply to create signature product designs that are successful in the market and inspire people," explains Jeanna Kimbré, Sony Mobile's Director of Creative Product Design. "Our design strategy for Xperia™ Z was to create a global flagship product with an iconic design that would not only stand out from the crowd but also appeal to consumers who seek a premium product."
OmniBalance design seeks to balance technology and design, recognizing that smartphones are multifunctional and crucial in many different parts of daily life. Kimbré elaborates: "People want hardware that is beautiful but allows them to become so totally immersed that it fades into the background when it's in use. We used the same design expression for Xperia™ Tablet Z," she adds. "By doing this and concentrating marketing activities on both of them, we've been able to maximize media impact and attract attention in a crowded market."
Sony Mobile's sales and marketing team believes that it is its mission to tell the world that Sony makes smartphones and tablets. "Sony is a powerful, well-established brand," says Dennis van Schie, Sony Mobile's Head of Sales and Marketing, "but we have only been Sony Mobile for a year, so we need to keep putting the message out that Sony is now a major player in the global smartphone and tablet markets and that compelling products like Xperia™ Z and Xperia™ Tablet Z offer users access to the entire Sony ecosystem. In this way, these products really do embody the ‘One Sony' approach."
In terms of market priority, van Schie's principal concerns are to maintain and eventually grow Sony Mobile's position in Japan—Sony's home market—and to regain its traditionally strong position in Europe, where it has well-established relationships with operators and products that fit local network configuration needs. "We are also working to strengthen our presence in major emerging markets, including Russia, Indonesia, India and Brazil, as well as in China and the United States. In markets where Sony has a significantly stronger position, we're leveraging Sony's capabilities. For example, in India, which is a largely retail-driven market, we've fully integrated our sales and marketing organization with that of Sony India, meaning that our products are sold through Sony retail channels."
While collaborating closely with key network operators to maximize the benefits of sales and marketing activities, Sony Mobile's 12 global customer units are striving to create a more retail-focused organization by engaging with customers at all levels. "I'm also building a performance-driven culture based on entrepreneurial standards," van Schie explains. "We're enjoying positive momentum with Xperia™ Z and Xperia™ Tablet Z, but we're still far from our ultimate growth goals. We need to stay humble and hungry but at the same time maintain a healthy determination to build on this momentum and continue driving growth."
"Xperia™ Z was the top-selling smartphone in Japan, underscoring the positive response from consumers and operators alike." says Katsuyuki Kaneko, Sony Mobile's General Manager of Sales and Marketing in Japan. "The strong momentum continues, selling 640,000 units of Xperia™ A (summer model) in the first 30 days"*
Kaneko sees the principal goal of his unit as the establishment of Xperia™ as the country's preeminent Android™-based smartphone brand. "We've emphasized Sony's highly competitive digital imaging and other technologies in Japan," he says, "which have won over network operators. We've also enhanced in-store displays and included other Sony electronics products to better showcase Xperia™ devices and communicate their superior connectivity. We intend to expand joint promotions and campaigns with other parts of the Sony Group."
* Source: NTT DOCOMO, INC.
"In Germany, Xperia™ Z sold out within two hours of hitting the shelf," says Gerhard Sturm, Sony Mobile's General Manager of Sales and Marketing for Central Europe. "The response in other markets was just as positive. In the beginning of 2012, very few people in Central Europe associated Sony with smartphones and our market share was quite low. However, we rose to number three in all of our main markets by late 2012 - Germany, Poland and Austria*. Now, thanks to Xperia™ Z, awareness of Sony as a manufacturer of smartphones is very high. Our devices are competitive and making a difference in the marketplace because people recognize the extraordinary potential of Sony."
Sturm's unit is following the overall Sony Mobile strategy for sales and marketing. To create and deliver winning products, it is promoting convergence and the full Sony ecosystem. To reinforce sales and marketing, it is driving strategic customer engagement through work streams aimed at building value, strengthening sell-through-based planning and promoting sales integration with other Sony entities in Europe. To achieve operational excellence, it is making far-reaching internal changes. "We now have a team that's strong, wants to win, and believes in Sony," says Sturm. "I'm confident that this team can help us take our business to the next level."
* Source: GfK Retail and Technology, Smartphone market share (in volume), full year 2012
Xperia™ Z and Xperia™ Tablet Z underscore Sony's time-honored commitment to providing unique Sony products, services and user experiences that inspire dreams, fulfill curiosity and enrich lives.
"The allure of Xperia™ Z and Xperia™ Tablet Z and the rich, distinctively Sony user experiences they deliver, combined with a love for the Sony brand, have brought a lot of positive feedback from customers, consumers and opinion leaders the world over," says Kunimasa Suzuki, president and CEO of Sony Mobile. "People are really excited about these products."
"Being a full member of the Sony Group enables us to work with other areas of Sony in new and innovative ways. In this respect, Sony Mobile and Xperia™ devices really are emblematic of the ‘One Sony' approach and its emphasis on channeling Sony's cutting-edge technologies, assets and resources. Of course, it's not just us. Everyone at Sony recognizes the importance of cooperating to drive growth and generate new value. We are seeing the benefits of this approach across the entire Group. Together, we really are changing Sony. Look for exciting things from us in the years ahead."
Special Feature: Sony Mobile