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Sony cedes US smartphone market to competition, for now

Sony cedes US smartphone market to competition, for now

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Sony CEO Kaz Hirai has been speaking to the press over in Japan today, where he's outlined his company's priorities for the near term. Pivotal to Sony's improving fortunes is the company's mobile division, whose success in the last quarter helped offset other losses in driving Sony to a moderate profit. Kaz underlines that importance, but argues that Sony must build on its current strengths first before looking to expand elsewhere.

"Our biggest priority is maintaining our share in Japan or increasing it ... But getting into the U.S. market requires a lot of resources and marketing, so we have to go one step at a time."

Japan and Europe, according to Reuters, account for 60 percent of Sony's smartphone sales, and Kaz is intent on maintaining that advantage. To the regret of many, that means we're unlikely to soon see a change in approach in the critical US market — the Xperia Z took months to reach its sole US carrier, T-Mobile, while its successor Xperia Z1 is showing little sign of making it with any of the big networks.

It's a peculiar situation, wherein Sony competes with LG and Samsung's latest phones, it matches them spec for spec and even outsells them in some particular regions, yet in the United States the company is almost a non-player. On the other hand, HTC is a good example of a competing Android phone maker that is actively engaged in the American market yet making losses from its efforts. Perhaps Sony's narrower regional focus is a help rather than a hindrance.