TOKYO (Reuters): Sony Corp sees the smartphone business as indispensable to its brand portfolio, its CEO said, bucking calls from some investors that the Japanese electronics firm should scrap the money-losing business.
Sony Corp CEO Kenichiro Yoshida - Reuters
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.
Sony’s consumer electronics hardware business “has centred on entertainment since our foundation, not daily necessities like refrigerators and washing machines”, Kenichiro Yoshida told a group of journalists yesterday.
“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%, shipping just 6.5 million handsets annually, mainly to Japan and Europe, according to Sony’s financial statement.
As Sony aims to make the business profitable next financial year, it ceased production at its Beijing plant and streamlined some sales operations globally.
Sony is beefing up gaming functions of its smartphones to tap customers of its successful PlayStation gaming business.
Yoshida also said he is confident in improving profitability at the pictures business.