By Chris Velazco
Sony Mobile's top-tier Xperia Z may have been one of CES's most pleasant non-surprises (seriously, is there anyone Sony didn't brief about that thing?), and it turns out that the company's future efforts may be more of the same. According to a recent CNET interview with Xperia Product Manager Stephen Sneeden, Sony (NYSE:SNE) is contemplating leaving the entry-level smartphone market to other companies.
"We're ready to be a premium smartphone provider, logically then, at the very entry level is where you lose the 'Sonyness,'" Sneeden told CNET.
Should Sony really give this plan a go, they'll be treading on well-worn ground. HTC announced its own intention to focus on producing a smaller number of quality smartphones nearly one year ago exactly, though it hasn't been without its problems. The Taiwanese company's strong hardware releases belie its recent sketchy financial performance. Motorola Mobility also intimated that it would take a similar route, and these days murmurs of a high-end X Phone currently under development at MM continue to make headlines. We'll soon see if CEO (and former Googler) Dennis Woodside sticks to his guns, as the company makes its transition, but in any case, it may be that Sony's potential plans may end up doing more harm than good if enough companies decide to take a similar tack.
If all goes according to plan, Sony hopes to be uttered in the same smartphone breath as Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) within the next two years. I'm not entirely convinced that Sony would be able to make strides that great even if these two years go off without a hitch, but perhaps the company is owed the benefit of the doubt. After all, they're clearly pretty damn good at crafting great smartphones when they feel like it; I was generally fond of the Xperia ion, and devices like Z have managed to excite some people in ways Sony has rarely been able to do with a smartphone. This move could be just what the doctor ordered, but I have a feeling it'll be some time before Sony officially makes up its mind.