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Sony Corp. and major retailer Aeon Co. are planning a foray into the market for lower-priced smartphones, according to sources.

From this spring at the earliest, Sony intends to sell earlier models of its Xperia smartphones at Aeon outlets at about half the price and half the monthly charges of major mobile phone carriers.

The move will offer consumers more choice and is expected to reinvigorate the market for lower-end smartphones.

Aeon launched low-price smartphones last spring with a lineup that has grown to include Chinese and other foreign-made handsets as well as phones from domestic makers such as Sharp Corp., Fujitsu Ltd. and Kyocera Corp.

Sony believes that fixing its loss-making smartphone business is its biggest challenge. It hopes the launch of lower-priced models will help it achieve market share in the relatively solid domestic market.

So-net Corp., a mobile virtual network operator in the Sony group, will provide the subscriber identity module cards necessary for smartphone services.

However, selling low-cost smartphones may affect demand for Sony’s newest models in its higher-price product lineup.

Vaio Corp., which took over Sony’s personal computer operations, plans soon to launch design-driven low-cost smartphones. The company, based in Azumino, Nagano Prefecture, may end up competing with Sony.

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