Sony CEO hints it might consider releasing Windows Phone products

Sony might be selling off its VAIO PC business, but the company may still collaborate with Microsoft on Windows Phone products. At least that's what company CEO Kazuo Hirai hinted at this week in a press conference with Japanese reporters.

The Japan-based site ASCII reports that, according to a statement from Hirai, "Microsoft has various OSes, including mobile. So, as Sony, we will consider new product development going forward." Hirai's comment is similar to one made a few weeks ago by Pierre Perron, who heads Sony Mobile Europe. He stated, "We are continuing our discussions with other partners, including Microsoft, as part of our partnership with this company on the broader Sony spectrum."

Both statements would seem to leave the door more than a little open to Sony releasing a Xperia smartphone with Windows Phone installed. However, Hirai shut the door on the company entering the PC business again, stating, "In the mobile arena, we decided that it is essential now to concentrate on smartphones and tablets." The VAIO PC division, which was responsible for some of the thinnest and lightest Windows notebooks ever made, will now form the basis of a new company managed by the Japan Industrial Partners investment firm. That group has indicated that the first PC products from the new company will be sold in Japan exclusively to start.

Neowin received the following response from a Microsoft spokesperson upon asking what impact the VAIO sale has on the company: "VAIO is an excellent brand and we look forward to continuing to drive innovation on Windows with the new company for our joint customers and partners."

Source: ASCII via CNet | Image via Sony

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Here is the plan.. Sell your Mobile division to MS too as it will tank anyway if you go with MS. Most of the Sony product has always been the overpriced product anyway. Samsung and LG really beat them down with their quality and reasonable consumer electronic products.

I won't mourn if Sony closes its business tomorrow. They never competed on price anyway which could have benefited consumer. And I don't see anything significant innovation coming out from their stable beside their gaming division.

Clearly Microsoft platforms are doing badly in general. That's one of the reasons Sony is selling their VAIO Windows PC's business. So it makes absolutely no sense to then jump on another faltering platform like Windows Phone.

What Sony should do is build Chromebooks, Ubuntu / Linux laptops, and continue developing their successful Android business. Perhaps even diversifying into Ubuntu and Firefox Phones. The worst mistake they can make is building Windows Phone, which is a dying / stagnating platform.

Enron said,

Windows Phone is growing 100% year over year.

So why has it been stuck at 3.5% marketshare for over a year? Selling more units doesn't cut it when marketshare is what attracts developers and thus users to a platform.

simplezz said,

So why has it been stuck at 3.5% marketshare for over a year? Selling more units doesn't cut it when marketshare is what attracts developers and thus users to a platform.

Where is it stuck at 3.5%? I've seen this number tossed about but from what I remember it's wrong. If it's global share you're thinking about then WP finished 2013 with 4%. If it's the US you have in mind I believe I saw it end 2013 at over 4% in then US. So where is this whole, it's stuck at 3.5% coming from?

The smartphone market is still growing, if you look at unit sales and not just % you'd see the clear evidence that WP is growing year over year, in some places it's lagging behind the growth rate of the market overall though.

Case in point there were 18.8 million WPs sold in 2012 while there were 35.7 million sold in 2013. That's hardly being called stuck any way you look at it.

George P said,

Where is it stuck at 3.5%? I've seen this number tossed about but from what I remember it's wrong. If it's global share you're thinking about then WP finished 2013 with 4%. If it's the US you have in mind I believe I saw it end 2013 at over 4% in then US. So where is this whole, it's stuck at 3.5% coming from?

http://betanews.com/2014/01/29...ach-4-percent-market-share/

George P said,

The smartphone market is still growing, if you look at unit sales and not just % you'd see the clear evidence that WP is growing year over year, in some places it's lagging behind the growth rate of the market overall though.

It might be growing proportionately in units to the growing market, but not in market share. In fact, it's actually shrinking according to Strategy Analytics.

To quote the article link I posted:


Windows Phone momentum has stopped in Q4 2013 when main vendor Nokia failed to repeat the solid performance it displayed in the previous quarters. The Finnish company then moved only 8.2 million Lumias (combined Windows Phone and Windows RT units), 600,000 units less than in Q3 2013. As a result, the tiled smartphone OS had a market share of 3.2 percent in the last quarter of the past year, which is less than it had in all of 2013.

It doesn't get any clearer than that.

George P said,

Case in point there were 18.8 million WPs sold in 2012 while there were 35.7 million sold in 2013. That's hardly being called stuck any way you look at it.

When you compare it against the other leading multi-OEM platform Android which sold 481.5 million in 2012 and then 781.2 million in 2013, it pales in comparison.

Microsoft likes to call itself the third ecosystem, but in terms of market share and units sold, it's not even on the same planet.

simplezz said,

http://betanews.com/2014/01/29...ach-4-percent-market-share/


It might be growing proportionately in units to the growing market, but not in market share. In fact, it's actually shrinking according to Strategy Analytics.

To quote the article link I posted:

It doesn't get any clearer than that.


When you compare it against the other leading multi-OEM platform Android which sold 481.5 million in 2012 and then 781.2 million in 2013, it pales in comparison.

Microsoft likes to call itself the third ecosystem, but in terms of market share and units sold, it's not even on the same planet.

While Nokia fell itself in Q4 the overall Q4 number was higher, strategy analytics has the overall Q4 number at 9.4 million so other OEM models sold more, be it htc, Samsung or some of the lower end Chinese makers. That is once again growth, I don't see why you should be fixated only on the % and nothing else? All that points to is that WP is growing slower than the market itself, not that it's not growing at all or that it's "stuck".

As much as the overall android numbers are way higher so is the overall number of units running it in the market. For every 1 model Nokia has there's at least 5 android devices by other makers, so it's lopsided by a lot.

How about we break it down by OEMs though, in which case Nokia sold 30 million while the 3rd best android OEM, LG, sold 45 million and the 2nd best, Lenovo sold 48 million or so. It's really only Samsung and apple who take the cake while the 20 odd android venders together make that huge number you pointed out. Lots of them probably selling way less than what Nokia managed to do.

Long story short there's growth, though slow, but besides that there's room for other OEMs to join, it's not like Sony or HTC or the other little guys are setting sales record just with android alone.

George P said,

While Nokia fell itself in Q4 the overall Q4 number was higher

Did you not read the article?

The Finnish company then moved only 8.2 million Lumias (combined Windows Phone and Windows RT units), 600,000 units less than in Q3 2013. As a result, the tiled smartphone OS had a market share of 3.2 percent in the last quarter of the past year, which is less than it had in all of 2013.

George P said,

That is once again growth, I don't see why you should be fixated only on the % and nothing else? All that points to is that WP is growing slower than the market itself, not that it's not growing at all or that it's "stuck".

Windows Mobile had over 10% at one point. If achieving a 3% share in four years is Microsoft's idea of a victory, then it's a hollow one.

Sony would be mad to invest in that kind of platform. But then again, Sony has a tendency to throw good money after bad, so who knows.

George P said,

As much as the overall android numbers are way higher so is the overall number of units running it in the market. For every 1 model Nokia has there's at least 5 android devices by other makers, so it's lopsided by a lot.

And why is that? License costs, small user base, popularity of Android, lack of features / customisation, distaste for the Metro UI, or just bad luck? I lean towards the formers.

George P said,

How about we break it down by OEMs though, in which case Nokia sold 30 million while the 3rd best android OEM, LG, sold 45 million and the 2nd best, Lenovo sold 48 million or so. It's really only Samsung and apple who take the cake while the 20 odd android venders together make that huge number you pointed out. Lots of them probably selling way less than what Nokia managed to do.

It's a highly competitive platform and market, that's why. Look at who pushes out 90% of all Windows Phones - Nokia. To me that's a monopolised platform, where's there's not much room for competition or growth. And even worse, Microsoft, the platform vendor, owns it. That's enough to put anyone off entering the Windows Phone platform.

George P said,

Long story short there's growth, though slow, but besides that there's room for other OEMs to join, it's not like Sony or HTC or the other little guys are setting sales record just with android alone.

Android makes up the majority of the market, thus logic dictates that's where the users and money are. The fact that the platform vendor (Google) doesn't produce 90% of its platform's phones is certainly more desirable too.

Enron said,
Windows Phone is going to have 15% market share by end of next year.

I swear I read somewhere that IDC predicted that Windows Phone would have a 17% market share by now. It's unfortunate that it's currently at 3.2% for Q4 2013.

simplezz said,

Did you not read the article?

Windows Mobile had over 10% at one point. If achieving a 3% share in four years is Microsoft's idea of a victory, then it's a hollow one.

Sony would be mad to invest in that kind of platform. But then again, Sony has a tendency to throw good money after bad, so who knows.


And why is that? License costs, small user base, popularity of Android, lack of features / customisation, distaste for the Metro UI, or just bad luck? I lean towards the formers.


It's a highly competitive platform and market, that's why. Look at who pushes out 90% of all Windows Phones - Nokia. To me that's a monopolised platform, where's there's not much room for competition or growth. And even worse, Microsoft, the platform vendor, owns it. That's enough to put anyone off entering the Windows Phone platform.


Android makes up the majority of the market, thus logic dictates that's where the users and money are. The fact that the platform vendor (Google) doesn't produce 90% of its platform's phones is certainly more desirable too.

And again, you're just looking at the % while I point to unit sales that show a clear indication of growth, all your percentages are pointing at is that the market is outpacing the WP growth not that it's stuck or not growing at all, like I said while Nokia might have seen a dip in Q4 other models be it from htc or Samsung pushed the final Q4 number higher..

Comparing Windows Mobiles 10% is also silly, what was the size of the PDA market back then? I bet it was a fraction the size of the smartphone market today, yet you once again only fixate on the percentages and not the units. Back then there was also fewer players, Apple wasn't in it or had yet to take off like it had. It was just WM and Palm, and Palm's long gone.


License costs is the only thing holding them back, they've said so at times, if features and UI was an issue as you like to think they wouldn't be growing at all and tanking like BB is, which is not the case at all.

simplezz said,

I swear I read somewhere that IDC predicted that Windows Phone would have a 17% market share by now. It's unfortunate that it's currently at 3.2% for Q4 2013.

Well they make so many bad predictions it's hard to keep track, but perhaps you are recalling this one that saying 19.2% by 2016 (I assume they meant globally):
http://www.forbes.com/sites/er...ket-share-by-2016-idc-says/
It could still happen, but I doubt it with only 2 years left on clock, they'll get there but it's likely to be on a different schedule.

Equally reminds me how a few here a little over a year ago were talking about how WP was going to ship 100m+ units in 2013, which of course were just fantasies.

I'd be happy to see Sony take a shot at the WP market. I want to see more variety and more attempts at being innovative or at least offer unique experiences via high end hardware.

I would be very interested in a WP that offered me access to all of my Xbox and PlayStation features.

ACTIONpack said,
I'm still going to get a Nokia phone for my next WP.

You better hurry, in a short while you will be able to buy a Microsoft Lumia but no longer a Nokia one.
Note that this is not necessarily a negative factor; I have used MS hardware, including for example MS cordless phone, and they were excellent.

Actually, he better wait until the end of this month. New epic and their last device will be announced. And yes, I will be getting it no matter what. It's their last device and this is my tribute to them.

Actually my statement was intended as a joke... Yes Nokia is expected to announce new devices in Barcelona but I do not think that any of them will be WP 8.1 devices because doing so would undermine MS presentation of the new OS in April. Unless of course Nokia will show switched off devices, just presenting the hardware specs but it seems, at least for me, way too far fetched and ineffective.

They might as well go all in. At least they have enough unique services to truly make their phone stand out. An exclusive PS4 app would draw more people away from Nokia. Leaning on their music, gaming, and movie services would also give them an unique advantage. Sony could easily be what HTC couldn't.

It seems every six months they "hint" at this. Yes they did create a WP7 prototype device a couple of which ended up on ebay but I guess my point is I wouldn't be getting my hopes up.

Well said. I don't see how making Windows devices makes sense for them at this point, maybe later when they're more profitable but having to pay license fees to Microsoft makes no sense right now, especially when Windows devices aren't exactly in demand.

efjay said,
I don't see how making Windows devices makes sense for them at this point
Perhaps if Microsoft offers them a billion-dollar support deal too?

efjay said,
Well said. I don't see how making Windows devices makes sense for them at this point, maybe later when they're more profitable but having to pay license fees to Microsoft makes no sense right now, especially when Windows devices aren't exactly in demand.

The elephant in the room is Microsoft now owning Nokia's handset division. With Microsoft making hardware directly making Windows Phones at this stage wouldn't be very wise. Nokia's partnership had already proven there isn't a lot of room for alternative OEMs in the Windows Phone space. The buyout just solidifies that point.

Google dumped Motorola to offer an olive branch to its OEM partners. Making it near impossible for Microsoft to now sit at the table. Microsoft wouldn't be able to say to an OEM like Sony that they have the same competitive issues on Android as well.

Unless MS basically pays Sony to build a Windows Phone (which means not only free licenses, but also paying for the development as well) I don't see one coming from Sony.

LogicalApex said,

Google dumped Motorola to offer an olive branch to its OEM partners. ll.

You are joking? They only bought Motorola for their patents and because Motorola was a financially sinking ship they sold it for scrap metal.

Clamdigger63 said,

You are joking? They only bought Motorola for their patents and because Motorola was a financially sinking ship they sold it for scrap metal.

Of course the Motorola purchase was for the patents. Selling it to Lenovo proves that.

Having Motorola in the space while being under Google complicated the relationship with other Android OEMs. Dumping Motorola while keeping the patents gets them what they wanted from the start without the conflict of interest issues that other OEMs definitely felt pressure from.

So, no, I am not joking.

LogicalApex said,

The elephant in the room is Microsoft now owning Nokia's handset division. With Microsoft making hardware directly making Windows Phones at this stage wouldn't be very wise. Nokia's partnership had already proven there isn't a lot of room for alternative OEMs in the Windows Phone space. The buyout just solidifies that point.

Google dumped Motorola to offer an olive branch to its OEM partners. Making it near impossible for Microsoft to now sit at the table. Microsoft wouldn't be able to say to an OEM like Sony that they have the same competitive issues on Android as well.

Unless MS basically pays Sony to build a Windows Phone (which means not only free licenses, but also paying for the development as well) I don't see one coming from Sony.

Before MS decided to by Nokia other OEMs had the chance to push WP, few decided to which gave the market to Nokia in the end. If Samsung was serious about the WP side they could've given Nokia a run for it's money but have only bothered to release two lackluster ativ models while Nokia has released 10 or so. Same for others like htc who did to and nothing else.

So no, the WP market does in fact have room for more players, just like the Windows market has. If they drop the OS fees to them now that they own/make their own phones that'd be enough to get more models out there. Otherwise they'll just end up being 5 leading smartphone makers while the rest fight for scraps with android, of which Sony is one of them, along with htc and others we don't here much about.

George P said,

Before MS decided to by Nokia other OEMs had the chance to push WP, few decided to which gave the market to Nokia in the end. If Samsung was serious about the WP side they could've given Nokia a run for it's money but have only bothered to release two lackluster ativ models while Nokia has released 10 or so. Same for others like htc who did to and nothing else.

So no, the WP market does in fact have room for more players, just like the Windows market has. If they drop the OS fees to them now that they own/make their own phones that'd be enough to get more models out there. Otherwise they'll just end up being 5 leading smartphone makers while the rest fight for scraps with android, of which Sony is one of them, along with htc and others we don't here much about.

I'm not really trying to say if MS did the right thing or not with the Nokia purchase. That will be borne out in time...

There was room in the Windows Phone market prior to the Nokia buyout. Now that Microsoft has purchased Nokia and confirmed they plan to market the new phones under the Microsoft brand there really isn't room anymore. Microsoft may have given up on other OEMs for the valid reasons you state, but the reality is they effectively closed the market to outsiders.

They will be fighting for scraps in Android, but there really isn't any other option at this point.

LogicalApex said,
They will be fighting for scraps in Android, but there really isn't any other option at this point.

After one week with my HTC One, if it were available on AT&T I would get an HTC One Max, and eagerly await the HTC One M8. The HTC TV Remote and Guide (full OTA guide as well) is simply awesome in and of itself. Microsoft Remote desktop is great on it and will be even better with a 6".

Not only that, not technical people are all into Android, and Otter box cases, and all these obscure apps.

I have all my apps and fitness peripherals, Bluetooth Audio with aptx. I can't see myself going to WP or even back to iPhone after this one. Microsoft may beat Apple with brute force and pricing, but it's out of its league going up against Android. They'll have to pull off a helluva phone and close all the app and feature gaps. I don't see it being possible though.

Don't see why not? Sony has a music and video service which they could make money from, plus open there own store for PS games to be ported over, just like they have done on Android.

At this point MS could just either drop the price for it, make it free for a limited time (set number of units), or just make it free. They'll make it up from the store or any IP deals they make for use in the hardware etc.

That is exactly what I would do for Windows Phone and Windows RT. The first 1 million licenses would be free. Then a small fee for 1 to 5 million, then bigger after that, etc...

ryuh3d said,
That is exactly what I would do for Windows Phone and Windows RT. The first 1 million licenses would be free. Then a small fee for 1 to 5 million, then bigger after that, etc...

So you would give a disincentive to the OEM for selling over a certain number of units? Not sure that is a good strategy to pursue if you want growth...

LogicalApex said,

So you would give a disincentive to the OEM for selling over a certain number of units? Not sure that is a good strategy to pursue if you want growth...

If you sell enough then the OS fees are negated from the overall unit sales. If the first 1 million units are free then that's pure revenue back into their pockets, a small fee for the next 5 million doesn't impact things after that point because you've sold enough to offset it. If the fee goes back to it's original price after that then it still doesn't matter because you've got the volume in your favor.

It's all about helping them at the start when it's more difficult to get a new product going.

With their 1.1 Billion $ loss and another 5000 jobs on the way out, they might as well try everything on their sinking ship.

Thief000 said,
With their 1.1 Billion $ loss and another 5000 jobs on the way out, they might as well try everything on their sinking ship.

kinda silly if they are selling their vaio line up.. I would see the value in owning a vaio laptop and WP8..