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Sony had a pretty good reason for not releasing a flagship phone this time

Although technically they released two as one of the heads of Sony Mobile explains.

Image: Sony

OF ALL THE press conferences that happened so far at the world’s biggest mobile conference this week, probably the most noticeable aspect was Sony’s absence.

Instead of holding a session to reveal its latest flagship phone, it opted against that and quietly announced a new tablet and mid-range device instead. Considering that HTC and Samsung made major announcements here, it felt odd not to have Sony in the mix.

There is a logic behind this as the senior product manager for Sony Mobile, Jun Makino, explained to the TheJournal.ie. For one, it really depends on what your definition of flagship is, and the other is there’s really no need for Sony to release one at this time, he said.

“The Xperia Z3 has been performing very, very well. It is the best selling Z series smartphone that we have,” said Makino. “Also the Z3 Compact has gotten the best satisfaction from the people who bought it and it’s going very, very strong for us,

What we bring to the Xperia Z3 really meets what the customers today want from a smartphone so we’ll continue to push with this… but we actually brought two flagships, the mid-range flagship [the M4 Aqua] and the tablet flagship [Xperia Z4] this time.

Relating to the Xperia Z4, the tablet is signalling a move between tablet and laptop, coming with a Bluetooth keyboard and changing to a Chromebook-like interface when connected.

It’s an obvious move considering how tablets are now being repositioned as a device for businesses as well as the recent launch of work profiles for smartphones (Android for Work is one while Sony has its own version Xperia in Business).

Spain Wireless Show The Xperia Z4 tablet is also waterproof, meaning you can watch videos/ send important emails while underwater, should you require it. Source: Emilio Morenatti/AP/Press Association Images

While the Xperia tablets are primarily entertainment devices, Makino believes this was a natural evolution of the tablet and what they can offer people.

“The logic behind this [move towards business] was really the customer experience, what customers want in a tablet,” says Makino. “What we wanted to do was to be able to make a tablet that caters nicely to those business users, especially the email users when they’re in cafés or at home or outside the office and give a laptop-like experience… Whether we wanted to aim for a twin laptop/tablet, it was a natural use of how the customers use it, and we feel that’s an optimal way to cater for that.”

But obviously, our differentiation factor is our size in the entertainment aspect… and the two-day battery life. We’re not saying you only need to charge it every two days, what we’re saying is you don’t need to worry about charging midday. You don’t need to worry about thinking about how much battery you will have. We want to make it worry-free for people to use.

Perhaps more importantly, Sony is slowly shifting its focus more on the software and services it can provide.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to abandon hardware anytime soon, but both Sony and Makino wants to grow the services side and provide more unique content for its users. Its entertainment service Xperia Lounge has 15 million active users – which isn’t massive considering it launched in late-2012, but it at least shows it still has potential – and the aim is to grow that.

We are still a product maker, but it is only the entrance to the greater, bigger world of the experiences that we can provide… through the products, we really want to enable people who can access Sony Music, Pictures, Movies or the Playstation and beyond that as well.

Quinton O’Reilly is at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona all this week. Follow all the goings-on at @TheJournalTech.

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Quinton O'Reilly

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