Sony to stop smartphone business in several markets including India

Sony on Wednesday said that it will stop selling its smartphones in several markets including India.
Sony smartphone manufacturingSony will focus on its key markets — Japan, Europe, Hong Kong and Taiwan — to drive profit for the smartphone business.

The smartphone business reported an operating loss of 97.1 billion yen ($879.45 million) in the year ended March, lagging rivals such as Apple and Samsung Electronics and weighing on the group’s record-breaking profit, Reuters reported.

“We have ceased sales in Central and South America, the Middle East, South Asia, Oceania, etc. in FY18, but we will keep monitoring the market situations and business feasibility,” the company said in a statement.

Sony said that it would continue customer support in India. “We have ceased sales in India in FY18 but we are committed to continuing customer support operations including after sales support and software updates for existing customers in India.”

Smartphone vendors shipped 310.8 million (–6.6 percent) units of smartphones during the first quarter of 2019, which marked the sixth consecutive quarter of decline. In 2018, smartphone shipments dropped 4.1 percent. This quarter’s results are a clear sign that 2019 will be another down year for smartphone shipments.

Samsung with shipment of 71.9 million units, Huawei with 59.1 million, Apple with 36.4 million, Xiaomi with 25 million, Vivo with 23.2 million and Oppo with 23.1 million are the top smartphone brands in the first quarter of 2019, the latest IDC report said.

Will not exit smartphone business

Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said the consumer electronics sees the smartphone business as indispensable to its brand portfolio.

“Sony’s consumer electronics hardware business has centered on entertainment since its foundation, not daily necessities like refrigerators and washing machines,” Kenichiro Yoshida told a group of journalists on Wednesday.

“We see smartphones as hardware for entertainment and a component necessary to make our hardware brand sustainable,” he said. “And younger generations no longer watch TV. Their first touch point is smartphone.”

The business, originally a joint venture with Sweden’s Ericsson that Sony took full control of in 2012, has a global market share of less than 1 percent, shipping just 6.5 million handsets annually, mainly to Japan and Europe, according to Sony’s financial statement.

Earlier, Sony said it will close down its smartphone plant in Beijing as part of the strategy of the Japanese electronics giant to cut costs in the loss-making business.

Sony will shift smartphone production to its manufacturing plant in Thailand in a bid to halve costs and turn the smartphone business profitable in the year from April 2020.

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