The Xperia XZ is an impressive phone, but it's hardly enough to move the needle Sony's stagnant smartphone business.
That doesn't seem to concern Sony, however. In Australia this week, the company's president, Kazuo Hirai, spoke to the Financial Review about the future of its mobile business and why it's focusing its efforts on experimenting in other areas — particularly virtual reality.
"Unless we can communicate with each other telepathically, there's always going to be some sort of a device and a network that is going to allow people to communicate with each other," Hirai told the Financial Review. He continued:
A paradigm shift in how we communicate with each other occurs every 10 years or so, but if we don't remain currently in the business then we don't get to play or we don't get to create the next paradigm shift of communication, we basically throw a towel in and lose all the relationships with our retailers and carriers around the world.
If we did that then whatever idea we may come up with, we're not going to be able to bring to market quickly enough.
It sounds as if Sony has reckoned with the fact that it needs to stay in the smartphone game to remain relevant in the industry, despite its inability to directly compete against its biggest players — namely Apple and Samsung.
Hirai continued that while Sony hasn't settled on what the "post-iPhone era" really is, it's hedging its bets on industries like the internet of things (IoT) and virtual reality. Of the latter, Sony is confident that it's in a particularly advantageous situation considering it's already invested heavily in PS VR. Hirai also expects virtual reality to influence other aspects of Sony's business, including movie and television production.
It's important that VR is successful, not just because it helps the video game business but in fact, the tide actually lifts all the Sony boats. We stand probably to benefit more than some of the other companies that are pursuing VR because we are involved in so many different aspects that touch the VR experience and the content creation."
In the interim, Sony is pursuing "strategic bets" through its Seed Acceleration Program (SAP), which backs ideas that could someday become a lucrative business line for the company. You can read more about that at the full article.
There are no firm global release dates for any of the experimental products Hirai mentions, however, just as there is no telling when smartphones will truly go the way of the dodo. But what's clear is that Sony is still a strong brand name, and as long as it continues to slap its name on quality products, there's no doubt consumers will continue to buy technology from the company in the years to come.