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Sony ups smartphone lineup with Xperia Z2

Bloomberg

Sony Corp., seeking to counter a slowdown in its smartphone business, introduced a top-end Xperia phone and a cheaper model in a bid to take a share in a market that has become increasingly crowded.

The Xperia Z2 combines 4K high-definition video recording, built-in noise reduction and a 5.2-inch display and will start shipping next month, Kunimasa Suzuki, head of Sony Mobile Communications, said Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Sony also updated its Xperia tablet and showed the Xperia M2 phone with lower specifications.

Sony, which has forecast a $1.1 billion loss and is cutting 5,000 more jobs, is battling shrinking demand for TVs and personal computers as consumers switch to mobile devices from Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai is trying to turn around earnings at the Tokyo-based company by wringing benefits out of assets from consumer electronics to mobile phones and entertainment.

“It is crucial for Sony to be successful in mobile, and it needs to continue to prioritize this over its other businesses,” Nick Dillon, an analyst at Ovum, said in a note. “Xperia Z2 and Tablet Z2 are modest updates to Sony’s flagship smartphone and tablet devices, but their importance in helping to re-establish Sony’s brand and design credentials should not be discounted.”

The new phones draw on technology across Sony, including its TV and audio businesses, Hirai said in Barcelona. The new tablet will go on sale in March, while the M2 will follow in April. Sony did not disclose prices for the devices.

This month, Sony cut its sales forecast for Xperia smartphones to 40 million units from an earlier projection of 42 million. The company also announced an overhaul of its structure in a bid to accelerate its turnaround.

The plan includes selling the Vaio computer business to buyout firm Japan Industrial Partners Inc. and splitting the TV manufacturing unit into a separate operating entity. Hirai has not ruled out a divestiture of the TV division in the future.

Sony, which debuted the SmartWatch wearable computer in 2012, on Monday also announced the Smartband wristband, one of a slew of wearable products by firms such as HTC Corp. and Samsung.

“We’re confident that over the course of the year, Kuni (Suzuki) and his team will drive the mobile technology to new heights,” Hirai said.