Following on from Sony’s decision to stop producing the Xperia Z range of smartphones, there are reports that the Japanese company is closing the Xperia C and Xperia M lines, putting all of its smartphone eggs into the basket marked Xperia X.
Focusing the portfolio on a small number of premium devices does give the mobile division of the company the appearance of a boutique manufacturer, but that should not be thought of as a bad thing. In an increasingly crowded world Sony needs to be able to clearly communicate the segment of the market it is chasing.
There may have been an argument that the common brand of ‘Xperia’ already served this purposes but the current spaghetti soup of names, numbers and suffices creates confusion in the product line. Sony complicates the matters further by releasing effectively the same device with three different names for the Japanese, American, and European markets (The base unit that was the Xperia Z4 being a key example of this trend).
By clearing the decks of all the existing naming conventions and models to go with the ‘X’ branding, Sony unifies all its mobile products and brings the various wearables and IoT devices under a single moniker. In the all-important smartphone market the expectation is that the Xperia XA will be the low-range device, the Xperia X is the mid-range device, and the X Performance will be for the high-end premium device
Sony stepped away from relying on a high-sales low-margin business model some years ago, but lost its way in a mix of reorganisation, falling profits, and company re-organisations. It has now come out of that period with a solid range of smartphones that has attracted many followers, but not in the same level of engagement as Samsung or ZTE.
That leaves the option of going for a hero device at the high-end where lower sales can be offset with greater turnover and higher margins. Supplement that device with a few devices lower down the portfolio to capture a halo effect from marketing and offer a device at a respectable price point, and you have the a strategy that might not put you at the top of the market share tables but should bring in sales that allow continued development of the product line.
If the idea of Sony relying on a high-performance device, a mid-range workhorse, and a small but spectacular budget device seems a bit thin, let me introduce you to the iPhone 6S Plus, the iPhone 6S, and the iPhone SE. (Source: Forbes)