back to article Sony: Can't beat Apple and Samsung, so let's be the Other Guy

Sony's head of mobile has said today that the company is aiming to be the third most loved smartphone maker over rivals like Huawei, ZTE and Motorola. The Japanese firm has no illusions of being able to knock Apple or Samsung out of the top two spots, but it's hoping to at least get onto the podium for a bronze medal, Kunimasa …


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  1. deshepherd

    Sounds like they're copying the 90s "we want to be number 3" ads that Snapple ran (the underlying message was if you want cola then there's coke and pepsi - but if you don't then Snapple is the number 1 alternative)

    1. jai

      Or perhaps their own advertising for the PS3 - they're entering the Third Place....

    2. Anonymous Coward

      "Sounds like they're copying the 90s "we want to be number 3" ads "

      Well, they're copying the strategy, the advertising has yet to be quite as specific. I feel that in Sony's rush to be third ahead of Huawei and HTC, they overlook the plans of The Company Formerly Known As RIM, and the plans of the companies still known as Nokia and Motorola respectively (as well as the possible wider outcomes of Microsoft's Great WP8 Gamble).

      Seems to me that there are far more companies with proud ambitions to be third than to be first. I wonder what sports day is like at CEO-school?

  2. djstardust
    Thumb Down


    Nice words but Sony are a company full of dinosaurs.

    Locked down this, DRM that .... heck my £1200 laptop won't even let me install updated ATI graphics card drivers as they have blocked them, however the ones available on the support page crash on install and are way out of date.

    PS4 is not backward compatible and the walled garden is getting bigger. Not what people really want.

    Their phones are decent enough to be fair, but compared to Samsung they are over priced and under spec.

    I wish them luck but in time they'll go bust.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm

      Most makers have custom drivers for specific laptops, this isnt a Sony thing and affects many other makes from what I have seen (Unless you don't have an administrator account and its going Blah not enough access).

      1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Hmmmm

        A customer bought this big Sony PC to use in the kitchen. When they keyboard folded up the screen switched to a clock. Typical Sony cleverness. However when XP SP3 came out this feature would not work and could not be fixed. The customer blamed me.

        1. jnewco81
          Thumb Up

          Re: Hmmmm

          Ha! Well it was all your fault.

  3. Shagbag

    "Sony's head of mobile has said today that the company is aiming to be the third most loved smartphone maker over rivals like Huawei, ZTE and Motorola."

    Well that's a FAIL then.

    2005 RootKit Scandal

    2010 PS3 'Other OS' Support U-turn.

    It's not what you'll do now, Sony, it's what you've done in the past that people will remember you for. There's a lot of hate out there for you.

    1. Bodhi

      You're right, I do remember what Sony have done in the past. None of this petty stuff you mention however, like rootkits done by German subsiduaries completely unbeknownst to the mothership, or removing a feature 3 people used because one of those people was trying to use it to run pirated games.

      I'm thinking more of the Walkman, PlayStation (1,2 and 3), Trinitron Wegas and the current range of Bravias, my 90's MIDI system that just will not die, all the professional A/V kit, the Handycams and the current Alpha and Cybershot range, all the decades of innovation (usually for innovation's sake), the inspirations for a certain Mr Jobs, the slim and light VAIO's available years before a Macbook Air, etc etc. Not to mention personally, my K800i, W950i, X10 and my current Xperia S. Oh and my Tablet S.

      Best of luck to them I say, about time they got back to past glories...

      1. Wheaty73
        Thumb Up

        Hear Hear

        Sick of whining cretins going on about root kits and waaah they stopped us installing Linux on the PS3.

        Sony make good kit, made great kit in the past, and I hope they carry on. They need to dump the Entertainment division though and get back to making the good stuff.

      2. Ian 55
        Thumb Down

        I used to live very close to a hifi repair place. Nothing fancy, just someone who saw a lot of kit from a wide range of manufacturers and did good work.

        Sony was on a very short list of manufacturers he would not buy anything from himself, because he saw too many Sony items with critical but deliberately underspec'd components.

        In one, the power regulator would be just good enough to last the warranty period, but especially with the curiously small heatsink, it would go before anything else. In another, the laser assembly should survive many years use, but the oddly cheap screw assembly would fail, making it useless after about two years.

        Most people would just buy a replacement - even then, there were not many repair places around - and Sony knew that enough would buy it from them, making them more money than if they'd designed the sodding thing to last in the first place.

      3. Daniel B.

        Sony and past, good AND bad @Bodhi

        Sony did a lot of pretty good stuff in the past; in fact, my circa 1998 Walkman is still in working order, I used it yesterday. The three PS3's are pretty good as well; the Trinitron TVs (our 1981 Trinitron made it to the 21st century!) and same with my Sony stereo. Oh, my 2007 W300i is still seeing some use, now on its third owner in the family.

        But one thing I won't do is call OtherOS "a feature used by 3 people". I was hit by that boneheaded decision; it left me at least a year off PSN, and I finally ended up "solving" the situation by buying another PS3. The irony is that the OtherOS nixing only hit the people who both used OtherOS *and* played games, that is, the segment that was actually giving Sony the $$$ for games. That said, Sony is a lesser evil vs. M$, who pimps off ki'box360 players on HDDs (selling overpriced HDDs to 'em, banning OTC HDDs) and charging for multiplayer. So I'll keep on giving Sony my gaming money, even if I disagree with their OtherOS stance.

    2. Ian 55

      You missed out winning the HD format war by bribing studios that it didn't own to only release films on Blurgh-ray.

      1. Daniel B.


        Um... you do know that HD-DVD was the "renegade" format? Only supported by 2 manufacturers vs. the BD being supported by the rest? Not to mention it was the crappiest of the two, with lower storage space *and* hobbled by a fugly MS-backed menu system.

        1. Ian 55

          Re: Blu-Ray

          Sure, but what killed it was the lack of content. And that was down to Sony a) owning a studio which - shock! - decided that the revenue from releasing on HD-DVD wasn't worth going for and b) bribing as many studios as it could to follow suit.

          I wouldn't - haven't - bought either, and I remain amused at how much Sony spent to destroy its DVD income.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ....according to Microsoft, who were bribing Toshiba at the time to not drop the HD-DVD addon and jump to Blu-Ray.

  4. asdf Silver badge

    >The Japanese firm has no illusions of being able to knock Apple or Samsung out of the top two spots, but it's hoping to at least get onto the podium for a bronze medal

    Pretty much sums up Sony's business model since 2005 or so. How sad is they will end up selling half as many PS3s and they did PS2s? There used to be Sony's hardware and every one else (inferior). Now Sony is usually just rebranded Korean products inferior in quality and more pricey than the Samsung (also Korean but understand the spirit of those who founded Sony much better than the media whore that is Sony does today.

  5. TeeCee Gold badge

    I have to say....

    .....that despite some of the hate aired here so far, their Android phones are actually rather good.

    A light touch with the added crud[1], a cut above most for quality, decent cameras and updates seem to turn up when promised too.

    If they keep it up, I'll probably get another one when this one expires.

    [1] Ok, the FB integration's a bit cheesy and all-pervading, but you can at least make that thoroughly disabled with conventional weapons[2]. Removing it all completely to get the storage back does require root though. On the serious plus side, their DLNA "play to" integration is the dog's bollocks.

    [2] Something I'd like to see in smartphone reviews - How easy is it to de-Twatterise and un-Faceb0rk the thing?

    1. Jon Press

      Re: I have to say....

      I agree. My Xperia Mini even took a dive in the River Tay over a year ago and continues to work well, although it was rather unhappy until dried out. The few gripes I have are about Android in general; the Sony implementation seems a lot better than most.

    2. M Gale

      Re: I have to say....

      [2] Something I'd like to see in smartphone reviews - How easy is it to de-Twatterise and un-Faceb0rk the thing?

      From 4.x onward you can disable bundled crapware. You just can't uninstall it, so it still sits there taking up space.

    3. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: I have to say....

      There DLNA "Play to" Integration is the Dogs Bollocks....

      To be fair is there a Branded DLNA Solution out there that acually works?

      If you think S0NYs DLNA Player / Aggregater (whatever...) is shite, then may I offer up for your approval Samsungs AllShare DLNA Player / Aggregater Softaware.

      Now I don't know about S0NY as I only have the aging GT-i9000 (i.e. Galaxy S), with it I can throw whatever I may have on my Phone to my Linux powered XBMC HTPC and pick it up from their ok-ish.

      If I want to however pick up anything off my NAS, and play it on my Phone though AllShare I get an "unable to play" to "Unsupported file format" Errors for something as simple as a MP3, and or Video Files.

      These "File" would otherwise play fine though Samsungs Stock Player if I had them on my Phone. I could even stream them off the Phone as well. But I can't get them to play.

      I would recommend ya give Skifta a try IIRC I think its free off the Google Play Store. Only problem is you might need an external Player to make it work. I could also recommend the Dice Player which was also free on the Google Play Store.

      FAIL cause I think DLNA on Phones is well FAIL. One would hope that it was better on Tablets, but sadly I have no Tablet yet.

      1. Shades

        Lost in translation

        "There DLNA "Play to" Integration is the Dogs Bollocks....


        If you think S0NYs DLNA Player / Aggregater (whatever...) is shite"

        In UK* English the "Dog Bollocks" is slang for something being good. Just as in yesteryear bad also meant good and, nowadays, sick means good too.

        *I'm assuming you're not from the UK as the term "Dog Bollocks" seems to pervasive from one end of this Isle to the other.

    4. Stevelane

      Re: I have to say....

      While I agree that Android phones are good and the Android phones are passing Apple in geewhizz they are still leagues behind iOS in usability. I use both and Apple is still the nicest and least frustrating to use.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have to say....

        Then you have been using the WRONG Android phones. Only an idiot would believe that all Android devices are equal, specs differ UI's differ (Sense/Touchwiz/Timescape/MotoBlur etc etc).

        I have stock Android on my Nexus4 and it totally blows away iOS in usability. I can share anything with anything for example (thanks to intents), I can set default programs, I don't even have to open apps thanks to widgets including lockscreen widgets.

        Apple have no answer at all for this.

    5. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: I have to say....

      You had sold the Sony phone to me until you said it had built in Facebook and Twitter.

  6. Lost In Clouds of Data

    Sony are still going?

    Wow, thought they'd be eaten by the competition by now. Aren't they a tish bit late to this dance?

  7. Michael Thibault

    It's a long way down (if you're spiralling, that is)

    Who, eh? Wow!

    So long, Sony... liked some of your stuff (way back when...)

  8. Dave 150

    They seem to be doing well in the UK

    Sony xperia Z has become the UK's second best-selling handset from pre-orders alone.

    1. Stevelane

      Re: They seem to be doing well in the UK

      I just got mine and it is lovely. Fast. Awesome screen and camera but not as nice in the hand as Sam and interfacing it to my iMac is a chore. It is clear that Sony love Apple even less than Sam does!

  9. Dogsauce

    Fool me thrice...

    I've avoided Sony products since experiencing the early (but just out of warranty) death of a couple of their compact digital cameras, broken only by a free-on-contract phone which also didn't go the distance (the mini joypad/arrow button losing the ability to do 'down'). Build quality just isn't up to it. Much as this is seen by many companies as a 'good' business model requiring consumers to purchase frequent replacements, I'm not playing anymore.

    The proprietary memory card/charger thing was always annoying too, at least one of these has been ditched (take note, Apple).

    1. M Gale

      Re: Fool me thrice...

      "The proprietary memory card/charger thing was always annoying too, at least one of these has been ditched"

      Not sure about newer Sony-only phones, but my old SE Arc S uses standard Micro USB (which fits annoyingly loosely) and Micro SD (which fits more snugly but is hidden under the battery).

      Does get a bit toasty when it's busy though.

  10. Andy Fletcher

    Seems Sony will never get forgiven

    To judge by half the comments on here. I'm pressed to think of any tech firm who hasn't done questionable nonesense at one time or another, quite often serious crap that shouldn't happen.

    I'd like to see them weather the storm. They've innovated plenty of times in the past and that's something that technology needs.

    *comment created using my VIAO* Had it 3 years, lovely machine.

    1. M Gale

      Re: Seems Sony will never get forgiven

      Unfortunately Sony is married to Sony BMG, which is not a tech company and has a tendency to repetatively do stupid things.

  11. Vin King
    Thumb Down

    Sony, heh

    I used to love me the hell out of Sony product. I bought my Vita based on my historical love for them. The fact that it had a built in 3G connection that could be used for all of... nothing... combined with an outdated idea of how an appstore should run turned me off hard.

    For seriously, the 3G connection couldn't even be used. Any time you attempted to use it for anything, you got a message telling you that you were attempting to use too much data. This, despite the fact that no data has been used, because you couldn't use it. Limitations of the platform were so severe, I gave up hope of Sony ever having a clue.

  12. Wang N Staines

    I like Sony

    Because they are the only company Apple copied/stole designs from ...

    1. __________

      Not true

      They also stole designs from Braun

  13. Louis Buxey-Softley

    Sony bring out lovely mobiles, but one thing that annoys me is they abandon supposedly old models so quickly that they never get a newer android update.

  14. billium

    @bodhi It is not 'petty' when rootkit removal costs the customer.

    It is not 'petty' when something is bought in good faith with one paticular feature in mind.

    Not a corporation to trust now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      You are right, the fact you used the word "now" at the end wraps it up.

      Inanimate, non-living corporations should not be given the human perspective of "remember the glory days." They should be viewed from the perspective of what they have shown in the present. With that perspective, Sony is not the Sony I used to know. Today they only play nice when they have to, not because they desire to. Why is anybodies guess, but we know greed has consumed them.

      I seriously was a Sony fanatic all through the 80's and half of the 90's. I wish I could post sincere positive comments like others have here, but I can't "now".

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here is a clue for Sony.

    Get in touch with all those that you sold Xperia X1's to. You know the ones, premium price, sub-standard product and support. Then you apologise. Then you offer the Z at a super, super low price. Then (and only then) might I consider Sony again.

    I guarantee nothing - remember your 'we have you by the balls' attitude towards customer service? Well, matey, looks like your plumbs are in the palm of my hand and I ain't in a forgiving mood...

  16. Fihart

    Sony still quite cool with me

    Though I haven't ventured into a PC World recently (thank God) my last visit suggested that only Sony came close to Apple for good looking laptops.

    Have chosen their recent MP3 players against Apple -- cheaper and simple drag and drop instead of the horrid iTunes.

    Only Nikon make nicer looking cameras -- not sure about the technology as I buy secondhand, reluctant to pay serious money for products made obsolete within months.

    Still using Sony hifi stuff -- including the headphones which came with a Walkman Pro in 1986 (rewired at least twice).

    Hopefully the new mobiles are better built than the cheaper Sony Ericssons which never matched Nokia fit and finish.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sony still quite cool with me

      I use Nikon SLR's, I have more money in Nikon lenses than I will ever confess. Let me tell you something...never buy a Nikon point and click, and as of today, Cannon makes better SLR bodies.

      P.S. The HiFi stuff was a scam.

      1. Fihart

        Re: Sony still quite cool with me

        All entry model digital cameras are generic Chinese crap with a brand label stuck on. Nikons have become notorious because buyers probably expected old-style Nikon quality. My point was that they make some cool looking models, certainly the J1. Compare with the wart-ugly G series from Canon.

        Have a soft spot for the metal construction and colour quality of Canon SD1000. But that was a £200 model and is still beaten on low light shots by a £100 Olympus FE 120.

        At its peak in the 1970s Sony hifi was beautifully finished and so durable that I still have a tuner and amps that work fine.

      2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: MyBackDoor

        As a Canon user, I have often thought the opposite lately...

      3. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Sony still quite cool with me

        The notion that Canon makes "better" bodies requires some qualification: what is the metric you're using? And do you mean "there is at least one Canon body that is better than any Nikon body" or "every Canon body is better than the equivalent -- for some value of equivalent -- Nikon"?

        Your observation was certainly true prior to the Nikon D3's launch, but by and large these days the field is a lot closer, by which I mean there are no definitive answers: depending on preference or usage, one or the other brand may deliver the goods.

  17. xpusostomos

    There is more hard fighting being done over the #3 spot than there is for the #1 spot. I'm not seeing Sony as the ones with a hope of getting #3 anytime soon. In fact, I'm struggling to see them impacting at all.

  18. Charles Manning

    Huawei: don't discount them

    Huawei is on a near vertical trajectory. It does not matter if they're currently third, fifth or tenth. They are coming up so fast they'll be number 1 soon while Samsung and Apple have their little playground scrap.

    Huawei have already eaten out the infrastucture market (where fashion is far less important than functionality and price). It will obviously take them a while to break through brand loyalties - especially in the west.

    But Toyota managed shrug off the Johnny Foreigner stigma, as did Sony, Hyundai, Kia and Samsung.

    Huawei can do it too.

    My prediction is that by Huawei is going to be number 1 before the end of 2014.

  19. jdv


    Whatever else Sony does, they should change the naming of their phones. All those phones named with silly letters, an no logic at all to it, complicated by a new top model twice a year... It is impossible to keep any idea of what's out there. Samsung an HTC are much better there.

  20. Hal Dace

    Hate is cheap

    Remember just a very few years ago Samsung was in a similar position vis a vis Nokia and Ericsson. And Apple was nowhere to be seen.

    Good luck to them - if they can produce excellent devices and services, that will spur the whole industry onto better things. Let's face is, the Apple-Samsung duopoly is getting pretty stale pretty fast.

  21. JaitcH
    Thumb Up

    Sony has a couple of tricks few others emulate, and definitely NOT Apple

    Rain proof/splash proof and waterproof features.

    Put here in the Tropics iPhans have to carry their Apple toys in cheap sandwich bags as our typical 'shower' is very effective at killing protected electronics.

    Sony, and a UK company, are two of the very few offering this essential feature which is so necessary in much of the world and, increasingly, the US of A with potentially climate change induced storms.

    Anyone who has lost a cell handset through a brief exposure to water learns just how useful the Sony feature is!

  22. Colin Ritchie
    Paris Hilton

    Sony, I remember them.....

    Back in the 70s the only stereo equipment that was affordable and decent quality was Sony or Phillips, the rest was expensive or crap.... or both. Come the 80's other manufacturers caught up on the hi-fi front and Sony struck out into portable music players, I loved my Walkman, they ruled the pavements for years.

    Compact Disc was a Sony or Phillips component in all the other brand's players, they were laughing all the way to the bank.

    I even remember when the Play Station hammered all the other contenders, (a Sega what? Dreamcast? Nah mate never hear of it.) long before the Xbox charged over the hill.

    Come the millennium the diversity of competition in all spheres of Sony's markets was telling and Sony have had the guts of their business spread over the shop floor to the point where they are just a bit player themselves now.

    Every Sony tech item I have used in the 21st century has been an also ran to so many other similar items that were cheaper, better looking or more intuitively menued. Sad but true, I still shudder at the thought of my friend's Sony Vile® craptop I had to reinstall from its hidden partition and then spend hours removing the crapware it filled the visible partition with, just so it could crawl a little faster before expiring from its own ineptitude and needing yet another restore, repeatedly, for years..... All because Sony were too mean to supply an XP install disk you could do a custom install with.

    Dinosaur is the right word and I think we can just see the meteor in the upper atmosphere about now.

    Paris? Like Sony she won't know when to call it a day either.

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