Sony readies for its second act in China
Updated: 2013-11-13 07:18
By Shen Jingting (China Daily USA)
China has become one of the top three markets for Sony Corp, alongside the United States and Japan, and will play a vital role in Sony's comeback, according to the head of the company.
Kazuo Hirai, president and chief executive officer of Sony, said emerging markets, with China at the forefront, occupy a unique position in the company's global strategy. The Japanese electronics giant plans to increase sales by 40 percent in these markets within the three years that end in 2014.
"China has growth potential that far exceeds that of the United States and Japan," Hirai said as he discussed features of the Chinese market. He made the remarks in an interview with China Daily at the 2013 Sony Expo in Shanghai.
China's continued rapid development of urban and network infrastructure, its burgeoning middle class and vibrant young generation all point to enormous growth potential, Hirai noted.
While China remains an important market for Sony's electronics business, the company also wants to sell its gaming, music and movie products in the country, Hirai said.
Sony is still struggling, but recent positive market response in China has boosted the company's confidence. According to Sony China President Nobuki Kurita, sales of major Sony products, such as TVs, increased by more than 40 percent year-on-year during the country's National Day (Oct 1) sales season this year.
"We are certain we will realize a double-digit growth rate in our electronics business in China during the 2013 fiscal year," Kurita said.
Sony, along with South Korea-based Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, became the first group of handset vendors to offer fourth-generation (4G) smartphones to Chinese consumers.
The Sony Xperia SP, the first Sony device supporting China Mobile Ltd's 4G network, was available in such cities as Beijing starting in November.
"We aim to grab a larger share of China's smartphone market," Hirai said. "When our products and sales networks are ready, we will launch significant market campaigns (in the country)."
Initially, Sony Mobile paid more attention to Japan and some European markets, where the company has enjoyed a traditional advantage and has a good customer base. But its next step is to conquer major markets such as China and the US.
Sony Mobile hopes to sell 42 million smartphones during the 2013 fiscal year (ending in March 2014), up from 33 million units a year earlier.
"We have a clear target to become a solid No 3 smartphone vendor across the world," Dennis van Schie, senior vice-president of Sony Mobile, said in June.
In 2005, Sony Mobile created a craze among Chinese music lovers with its Walkman feature phones sold under the Sony Ericsson brand. But the company's market share shrank with the rise of the smartphone and as domestic rivals joined the race for consumers.
According to the Beijing-based research firm Analysys International, Sony Mobile wasn't even listed in the top 10 smartphone vendors in China. Samsung took the No 1 position with 18.4 percent market share in the third quarter, while Lenovo Group Ltd and Yulong Telecommunication Ltd's Coolpad ranked second and third.
In terms of the game console business, Hirai said Sony is eager to introduce its gaming products to China, but the company needs to meet some requirements first.
"To provide gaming products and services to consumers all over China, we have to consider what kind of software we bring into the country - we need an integrated operation platform to sell our PlayStation products," Hirai pointed out.
China banned the sales of game consoles in the domestic market 13 years ago. But it said in July that if foreign companies register in the new free trade zone in Shanghai, they will be allowed to promote and sell game console products on the Chinese mainland.
(China Daily USA 11/13/2013 page15)