Sony Mobile Says Closer Ties With Parent Help Win Market Share

Sony Mobile Communications, the phone arm of Japan’s largest electronics company, said closer ties with its parent following a buy-out last year are helping it create new products and win market share.

The unit developed technology that lets its devices connect with other Sony Corp. products including TVs and speakers after a venture with Ericsson AB ended, Steve Walker, Sony Mobile’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview in Las Vegas yesterday. The division has also gained from tapping into the group’s marketing budget, he said.

Sony is focusing more on smartphones after customers shunned the lower-functionality devices it made with Ericsson in favor of Apple Inc. iPhones and Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy devices. The push has helped Tokyo-based Sony boost its global market share to at least 5 percent, Walker said, from 3.6 percent in the first quarter of last year.

“We want Sony to be famous for smartphones, which it hasn’t been,” Walker said. “We really need to reinvent our whole product portfolio.”

Kazuo Hirai, who took over as chief executive officer of Sony last year, has also set a goal of returning the phone unit to profit. No target date has been set for this, Walker said.

Market Share

Sony’s share of the global market phone market began rebounding last year helped by the release of its first Xperia handsets. The company had a 4.7 percent share in the third quarter, according to Bloomberg Industries data. Sony completed the 1.05 billion euro ($1.4 billion) acquisition of Ericsson’s 50 percent stake in the unit, formerly called Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, in February 2012.

Walker reiterated Sony’s earlier target to boost smartphone shipments 51 percent to 34 million units in the fiscal year ending March 31. The company has previously said that it sold 8.8 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30.

Operating losses at the mobile phone unit may total 37.7 billion yen this fiscal year and 17.2 billion yen the next, according to the average of three analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg News last month.

Sony yesterday released the Xperia Z, a water-resistant handset with a 5-inch Full High-definition screen, Qualcomm Inc.’s Snapdragon S4 processor and a 13-megapixel camera. The company has signed deals to sell the device globally through phone operators this quarter, Walker said without elaborating.

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