Sony ups ante wth new smartphones headed for SA

2014-01-15 10:29
Sony is targeting the mass market with smartphones designed for multimedia entertainment. (Sony)

Sony is targeting the mass market with smartphones designed for multimedia entertainment. (Sony)

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Cape Town - Sony has announced the launch of a smartphone pair specifically for local markets, and dedicated to multimedia entertainment, the company said.

On Tuesday, Sony announced that the Xperia E1 and Xperia T2 smartphones will be coming to South Africa and the devices are aimed at the mid-market segment.

The E1 has a 10cm touch display and is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual core processor mated to 512MB of RAM, while the phablet-sized T2 Ultra has a 15cm display and is powered by a quad core 1.4 GHz processor with 1GB of RAM.

Despite being relatively underpowered when compared to Sony's premium devices, the E1 is focused on entertainment activities such music and video and the device sports the latest version of the company's Walkman app.

The E1 has 4GB of onboard memory and includes a micro-SD card slot that can expand memory up to 32GB.

Market share

The T2 Ultra is available as a dual SIM device in developing markets but Sony gave no indication that it would bring this version to SA. Instead, you get the 13 megapixel camera smartphone with support for higher speed LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks.

Sony has also push the engineering of the T2 so that the display is within just 2mm of the edge of the edge of the 7.6mm thick phone.

Sony is on a mission to dramatically increase its market share and research by an industry tracker revealed that growth in smartphones will come of mid-tier devices.

Gartner said that the window for high-priced smartphones such as the iPhone 5s, Sony Xperia Z1, Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One was closing as consumers looked for functionality over brand.

"Growth is expected to come from mid-tier smartphones in mature markets and low-end Android smartphones in emerging markets," the company said.

When the company launched the Xperia Z, it said that price was not a determining factor as far as its marketing policy was concerned.

Wider audience

"At Sony Mobile, we're not trying to differentiate ourselves on 'Oh look how cheap it is' or how many cool pixels we have because the fact is tomorrow someone will always outdo me.

"Where do I differentiate myself; where can I make a place for myself in the consumer mindset? The only place I find myself doing that is by delivering a consistently good user experience," Mansoor Ahmed, Sony Mobile product marketing manager for Middle East and Africa, told News24 at the time.

However, it is likely that Sony is looking to expand its range of smartphones to appeal to a wider audience who would be able to afford its offerings.

The E1 and T2 are designed to appeal to consumers who may not be able to afford the flagship Z1 or Z1 Compact, and Ahmed recently said that a mix of devices was the ideal strategy in SA.

"In every market you have price sensitive consumers, premium consumers and of course the middle class and you have to have a product with different products with different price segments with different propositions."

Sony would not reveal exact pricing of the devices as negotiations with operators is still ongoing, but based on average European pricing, the E1 should retail for under R2 000 (€175) and if bloggers' reports of the T2 price of €399 is correct, that should imply a R5 000 local price.

Both Android powered devices are expected to be launched in SA by March 2014.

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