A shift in focus to brand-building and profitability is forcing Sony’s mobile division to withdraw from most of the smartphone market worldwide, based on recent reports stemming from the company's Corporate Strategy Meeting FY2019. The move is part of a relatively short-term plan through March 31, 2019, intended to help the company cut operating costs in order to regain profitability.
In total, the Japanese tech giant hopes to cut its operating costs on that front by at least half as compared to 2017. As a result of that drastic reduction, the company's sole remaining 'focus regions' will now be Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in Asia as well as Europe. The US and the northern segment of the Asian continent are now partially defocused as regions where no operator business is ongoing.
Everywhere else in the world, including burgeoning emergent regions such as India as well as established markets such as Canada and both Central and South America, is now marked as a "Non-Focus or Defocused" region.
No more Sony smartphones?
Sony's decision to defocus most of the global market does not mean that buyers won't still be able to buy and use smartphones from Sony that might work in any one of those regions. It does mean that consumers who want to continue doing so will be doing so at their own risk with no official support and no guarantee it will work.
Xperia is by no means dead to the world and the company is actually redoubling its efforts with that brand in a bid to grow amid the spending cuts in regions where it will now be appointing its focus. The Sony Xperia 1 marked the start of that and is actually the result of those cost-cutting measures.
Rather than running divisions separately, that was Sony's first mobile flagship to place the focus on bringing as much advanced technology from across Sony's multiple businesses into one of its smartphones. The company had been holding IP and technology from each division rather than letting them be utilized across the board — something one executive lamented following the smartphone's launch.
That's a fact Sony highlighted in the associated corporate strategy meeting too, highlighting how its film and entertainment focused units, as well as its camera division, had been brought to bear in its latest smartphone design.
News that the company is cutting itself off from most of the world's regions is not entirely unexpected since there have been various reports and rumors over the past several months pointing to this eventual outcome.
As recently as late April, Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki was reported as making statements pertaining to the shutdown of Sony production in Beijing as well as its exit from some markets. Those included the now "Defocused" Middle East and South American regions.
Prior to that, the shutdown of the OEM's Beijing smartphone facility had already been speculated with the company hoping to address its mobile unit's financial stability more effectively from 2020 onward. Reports had also already indicated it would be leaving regions such as Turkey and Africa while its smartphone shops in Malaysia had begun quietly closing down too.