1. Flagship devices drive technology and design: Kenichiro Hibi, Sony India

Flagship devices drive technology and design: Kenichiro Hibi, Sony India

Think about thin and light yet powerful and durable smartphones, and Japanese electronics maker Sony’s lineup comes to mind.

By: | Published: December 1, 2014 2:29 AM

Think about thin and light yet powerful and durable smartphones, and Japanese electronics maker Sony’s lineup comes to mind. Recently, it set a new standard for the flagship smartphone experience with two devices—Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z3 Compact. Both the premium offerings combine all of the details that make Xperia smartphones great—including the highest level of waterproofing, enhanced camera experiences and applications, up to two-day battery life; good audio quality and PS4 Remote Play. Kenichiro Hibi, Managing Director, Sony India, talks to Nandagopal Rajan about the new devices, the company strategy and the new dynamics of the Indian market. Excerpts:

What is the strategy for the Z3? How will you market it in India? What is the USP?
Sony Xperia Z3 is the most powerful smartphone to date from Sony, featuring a host of exciting features and innovations. We have further enhanced users experience made possible by the best of Sony initiative combining all of Sony’s best technologies in digital imaging, video, audio and entertainment (gaming) into one device, all packaged in our signature sleek and aesthetic design. Addressing our customers’ need to stay connected and multitask without having to charge their smartphone repeatedly, the Xperia Z3 also features unique power-saving technologies for upto two days usage.

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact packs all the path-breaking features and uncompromised performance of Xperia Z3 in an attractive compact size. The two smartphones cater to the segment of people who are technology enthusiasts and want to own the very latest and best products.

Will it be tough to woo customers as your new flagship has come within months of the Z2?
Smartphone technology is changing rapidly and launching two flagship models in a year is fairly routine to offer an upgrade option to customers. With Xperia Z3, we are not just targeting existing Xperia Z series users, but also users of other smartphone brands, who want to
upgrade to one of the most powerful and greatest smartphones till date from Sony.

Do you think the market situation has changed with budget phones cornering most of the volume? How will Sony react to this?
The Indian smartphone market offers potential for all players to grow. There will always be a market for lesser priced or discounted products and brands, as there will be for more premium brands that offer the best quality. We had 30 smartphones models planned for launch this year, including variants and are focusing on the entire spectrum from sub R10,000 segment, to high end premium smartphones.

Are flagship phones becoming very niche luxury products in the present scenario?
While a large segment of mobile phone customers in India seek budget and mid-range smartphones, there is a significant market of buyers who seek the latest and best quality, featuring the newest technology and the most innovative design. Flagship devices drive technology and design leadership and are value drivers unlike budget devices, which are volume drivers.

Are mid segment phones becoming irrelevant with budget phones offering similar specs?
There is enough potential to grow across the entry, mid and higher segments. Every segment has its defined set of audience catering to their specific needs. Sony has seen strong sales in the mid-segment priced between R15,000-R30,000 and we foresee continued strong growth in this segment going forward.

What will be Sony’s target with the new phones and the entire Xperia range?
Xperia is the fastest growing product category for Sony India and we expect it to contribute over 40% of our total business in FY14. In order to drive this growth, we have allocated R350 crore of our total marketing budget towards Xperia and have further expanded our distribution network to a solid 9,500 touch-points including 250 Exclusive Xperia Stores in FY14.

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