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Exclusive: Sony to abandon twice-yearly refreshes for flagship phones

Exclusive: Sony to abandon twice-yearly refreshes for flagship phones

The absence of a new Xperia flagship smartphone at Mobile World Congress (MWC) heralds a new strategy from Sony, an exec has hinted, amid predictions that its under-performing mobile division could be up for sale.

In recent years, Sony has brought two flagship smartphones to market annually. One at MWC during the first quarter and a second model, usually a fairly incremental update of its predecessor, towards the end of the year.

The approach was criticised by some tech-watchers on the grounds that it confused consumers, who weren't sure which was Sony's top-of-the-range phone.

It was also thought that the 'two-flagships' strategy irked those who bought the first flagship only to see it superseded a matter of months later.

Perhaps mindful of those concerns, Tim Harrison, Vice President, Global Communications & PR at Sony Mobile Communications, intimated to uSwitch that some changes are afoot with the handset-maker's sales model.

He said: "This six-month cycle that we had with our smartphones, that was pretty regular and pretty clockwork. But you will see an adjustment to that.

"There is not a black and white answer to: have we stopped doing it or not, though.”

Harrison also said that the company's revamped strategy will be marked by more bundling of software with its handsets, with a view to leveraging its trove of content.

"We want to shift the emphasis of the story telling at MWC towards the content services proposition and the broader proposition.

"We're putting out our Xperia Lounge Gold service, with a content bundle and services bundle.

"It's about trying to positioning products in the market to be competitive - with a mixture of software services and hardware - to make sure we've always got a market-leading proposition.”

Sony’s MWC wasn’t entirely without fresh gadgetry, however. As well as the S4 tablet, it unveiled the water-resistant S4 Aqua.

This teams a five-inch 720p screen with an Octa-core Qualcomm processor, 13-megapixel camera, front-facing 5-megapixel snapper and two-day battery life.

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