2019 marked the fifth year that Ausdroid has been at Mobile World Congress, and each year as reliable as clockwork Sony Mobile held its press conference on Monday morning, the first day of the show. This year was no different, in that sense, but in another, it marked a departure.
Sony Mobile’s star has been fading in Australia for a couple of years. In a market where competitors were rapidly innovating, Sony Mobile was not, and the sales figures (outright and via major carriers) confirmed the tale. Things were not looking good.
Putting together some things we’ve heard from a number of sources, Ausdroid has reached the conclusion that Sony Mobile has abandoned the Australian market.
Let’s have a look at what we’ve heard.
First up, as any tech site does, we maintain contacts in the retail sector, both at retail stores, carrier outlets and so on. Speaking to a number of such contacts in recent months, Ausdroid has heard that Sony Mobile’s products just weren’t moving. When one major retailer was asked why they’re not stocking Sony Mobile gear anymore, the response was somewhat blunt “Why would we stock things that we can’t sell? No one wants it”.
Secondly, there’s the difficulties we’ve experienced in trying to nail down anyone at Sony who can actually talk to us about their products. Sony’s former PR firm declined to comment on anything related to Sony Mobile, and referred us to a contact for Sony Mobile Asia Pacific who appeared to have left the organisation.
In other words, Sony Mobile’s PR firm were happy to talk to us in early 2018. By the end of 2018, they no longer represented the company. Internal Sony Mobile contacts, too, appear to have gone.
Thirdly, there was some discussion at MWC on precisely this topic. Someone who Ausdroid trusts would have a fair idea on such matters let us know that Sony Mobile likely has precisely two employees left in Australia to provide customer support for existing customers, and would likely remain in place until those handsets were outside warranty.
When we approached Sony’s booth at MWC and made enquiries about an APAC contact, or indeed, any local information whatsoever, none was forthcoming. We were pointed at Sony’s global press site and advised there wasn’t anywhere else we could go.
Local customers have also been left frustrated. One customer who approached Sony about upcoming releases received this suitably cryptic reply:
Unfortunately we do not yet have a confirmed release date for any new Xperia devices to Australia.
If you are interested in any of our devices we would advise to keep an eye on our social network sites for the most up to date information.
You may also like to contact your preferred Mobile phone retailer to register your interest in the products, as the more interest they are aware of, the higher the chances of them stocking the models to meet demand.
Urging customers to push their preferred retailers to stock the products is a sure sign Sony has little confidence any of the majors will be interested in selling their products this year. It doesn’t bode well for Sony Mobile in Australia.
Putting these tidbits together, it’s apparent to us that Sony Mobile is gone. Part of me is upset by this, because going back a few years, Sony made some of my favourite handsets in the smartphone market. Sony’s Xperia Z3 (and Z3 Compact) were very popular amongst the Ausdroid team.
Fast forward a couple of years, though, and Sony has struggled to make anything as iconic, and though its 2019 lineup looks okay, it’s clear the company doesn’t believe it could actually sell them in Australia.
Going off the sales figures we’ve heard, they’re probably right.
Sony Mobile’s exit, though, creates opportunities for others. We’ve heard informally that despite poor sales, Sony’s may have been ahead of LG’s in some segments, and Sony’s departure can only benefit LG’s sales in Australia.
Do you know more? Please let us know, either in the comments or get in touch via our Contact page.