This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
I bought the Sony Xperia 1 II about a month and a half ago. I've been pretty happy with it. Although I was able to get it on May 22 launch day because I bought it at au, but for some reason, Photography Pro, which is supposed to be the main feature of Xperia 1 II, had not been able to be used. It was supposed to be available after an update to the device, but it wasn't until June 18, when NTT DoCoMo released the device, that it finally became available. It's a pity because I was going to brag about it to the people who are waiting for the NTT Docomo version.
There's a reason why I bought the Xperia 1 II again this year even though I bought the Xperia 1 last year. It is more complete than the Xperia 1 and supports 5G. The camera also has the essence of Sony's α series of digital cameras, which stimulated my material desires. In fact, the camera's image quality is not strangely AI-enhanced, and it takes photos with really natural colors. It certainly makes for a picture that camera enthusiasts will love.
The Xperia 1 II, which boasts a high level of perfection, will surely sell well, I think. No, Sony will be in real trouble if it doesn't sell.
How to attack the domestic market with the rise of the middle class
Sony's mobile phone business has had terrible numbers over the past few years.
In fiscal year 2017, the company sold 13.5 million units per year; in 2018, it sold 6.5 million units, and last year , 3.2 million units in fiscal year 2019. In other words, sales have been halving every year. By way of comparison, in fiscal 2015, it was 24.9 million units per year. The drop in sales over the past five years is substantial.
For reference, research firm IDC's 2019 Full Year Smartphone Market Actuals research data showed that Sony shipped 2.32 million units in Japan.
There seems to be a difference between shipments and sales in terms of volume, and even if you compare the two at the same time, it doesn't necessarily mean that the Sony earnings figures and IDC are the same. However, the two sets of data show that two-thirds of Xperia's sales are now dependent on Japan.
In the domestic market, the rise of the middle class and the demand for switching from feature phones are notable.
According to IDC's survey, Apple was No. 1, Sharp was No. 2, Fujitsu was No. 3, Samsung Electronics was No. 4, and Sony was No. 5.
Aside from Apple's popular iPhone, Sharp came in second place because of its middle-class AQUOS Sense series, which is selling well. Similarly, fourth-ranked Samsung Electronics also sold well with the Galaxy A series. As for third-place Fujitsu, its Raku-Raku smartphone is leading the way. In other words, when it comes to Android phones, Japan is looking for models with good cost performance or brands that are easy for smartphone beginners to jump on.
In that respect, the Xperia 1 II, while it has a camera, video and music that will satisfy Sony fans, does not meet the Japanese market's trend for cost performance and demand for a replacement from feature phones. The price of the device exceeds 100,000 yen, limiting the number of users who can afford it.
Will the Xperia 10 II be Sony's savior?
The Xperia 10 II is expected to be Sony's savior in this situation.
The Xperia 10 II also has an OLED display with a 21:9 screen ratio, three lenses, and more. It's perfect in terms of specs.
That price is 41,976 yen for NTT DOCOMO, 49,990 yen for au, and 40,000 yen for Y! Mobile. It's a little more expensive than other manufacturers' models with good cost performance. It's a little more expensive than the more cost-effective models sold by other manufacturers, but if you can get the latest Xperia model for this price, you can say it's quite attractive.
In the past few years, Sony has pushed forward with its "premium" strategy, which has led to a significant improvement in the profit structure of TVs, digital cameras and audio products. The smartphone market also used to have manufacturers competing with each other for features in their flagship models.
However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has given guidance on discounts at the time of sale of devices, the high-end models that cost more than $100,000 have become harder to buy. Also, budget phones have boomed, and cost-effective phones sell well.
Sony has a good chance of winning in TVs, digital cameras, and audio equipment even if it only sells premium products.
However, today's smartphone market cannot be fought by premium development alone, and it is important to come up with products that offer good cost performance. Sharp's rise to the top of the domestic Android manufacturers with its AQUOS Sense series is a true indication of the importance that users place on cost performance.
The current volume zone of the smartphone market is also a product segment in which Sony is not strong.
A double feature with the Xperia 1 II
From the Xperia 1 onwards, Sony has shifted to a mindset of not chasing sales numbers and surviving on radical products. In that respect, the Xperia 1 II is a truly radical phone.
Now it's important to make the Xperia personality and brand known to the world with the Xperia 1 II, but also how to increase the number of users who say "I can't afford the Xperia 1 II, so I'll buy the Xperia 10 II".
It's a shame that for some reason the Xperia 10 II is only available in NTT Docomo, au and Y! Mobile at the moment. If it was sold in the MVNO and SIM-free markets as well, it would probably catch the attention of many users.
The sales of the Xperia 10 II, which is available in the 40,000 yen range, will likely determine the future of Sony's smartphone business.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.