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Sony CEO defends smartphone business but will focus on just four markets

Sony CEO defends smartphone business but will focus on just four markets

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to its loss-making Xperia smartphone business, positioning it as a central part of Sony’s entertainment-focused identity.

“We see smartphones as hardware for entertainment and a component necessary to make our hardware brand sustainable,” Yoshida said in comments reported by Reuters. “And younger generations no longer watch TV. Their first touch point is [the] smartphone.”

Despite this, Sony is far from a major player in the smartphone industry, shipping just 6.5 million units over the past financial year and making an operating loss of 97.1 billion yen ($879.4 million). This week the company said at its investor day that it was “defocused” on all but four markets: Japan, Europe, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Regions like Australia and the Middle East will no longer receive much attention.

Yoshida’s comments are particularly notable because during his time as CFO under former CEO Kaz Hirai, he was seen as an instrumental force in the company’s efforts to divest itself of unprofitable units such as the VAIO PC division. It’s unlikely that Sony will ever make much money through smartphones, but it’s clear the company sees the fact that it still produces them as an important element of its brand.