Sony to Introduce Xperia Tablet Challenging Apple, Samsung

Sony Corp. (6758), the electronics maker struggling after four straight annual losses, will introduce a new tablet computer in Japan this year as it tries to lure customers from Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co.

The Xperia Tablet Z will be 6.9 millimeters (.27 inches) thick, weigh 495 grams (17 ounces) and have a 10.1-inch (26- centimeter) display, Sony said in a statement today. The waterproof device may debut in Japan as soon as March before appearing elsewhere, Noriko Shoji, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman, said by phone. The price hasn’t been decided, she said.

Sony Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai is focusing on mobile devices to revive the company, whose TV unit has been unprofitable for eight straight fiscal years. The Tokyo-based company debuted its first tablet in 2011, making it the last of the world’s top 10 laptop makers to tap surging demand triggered by Apple’s iPad.

“It’s a rational strategy for Sony to focus on mobile devices including tablets as its TV business is no longer a cash cow,” said Keita Wakabayashi, an analyst at Mito Securities Co. in Tokyo. “Still, the tricky part of the tablet business is that products can conflict with laptop computers on one hand and smartphones on the other.”

Sony rose 3.3 percent to 1,187 yen at the close of trading in Tokyo, compared with a 1.5 percent decline for the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average. The company has risen 24 percent this month.

Tablet Demand

Worldwide tablet shipments probably totaled 120 million last year and may reach 340 million by 2016, market researcher IHS Inc.’s iSuppli said in December.

In October, Apple introduced a smaller version of the iPad with a 7.9-inch screen and prices starting at $329. Sony also faces competition from Amazon.com Inc.’s updated Kindle Fire and Google Inc.’s Nexus 7.

Sony got 18 percent of sales from mobile products and communications in the quarter ended September, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It bolstered the division by buying out Ericsson AB’s stake in a venture making mobile phones last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mariko Yasu in Tokyo at myasu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net.

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