January 09, 2014
Las Vegas: Sony wants India to become its No. 3 market. It's targeting a big sales push that may see the country overtake its home base of Japan, driven by smartphones, the segment that's growing the fastest for the company. The focus on smartphones was renewed last year with the launch of a new range of Xperia devices in India, which currently ranks fourth overall for Sony after China, the US and Japan.
"In the last one year, we gained market share from 4% to 10% in smartphones and now the target is to take it up to 20-25%, which would enable India to become a bigger market for Sony globally," said Sony India managing director Kenichiro Hibi on the sidelines of International CES, the world's largest consumer technology expo that's held annually in Las Vegas.
Globally, Sony is betting that its Xperia smartphones and the latest iteration of the Play Station will help the company regain ground lost to rivals Samsung and LG and restore its stature as a manufacturer of some of the most technologically advanced and most desirable electronic devices. Meanwhile, it needs to overcome the erosion in sales of compact cameras and laptops as smartphones and tablets eat into those markets.
Sony has some way to go before it can catch up in India with smartphone market leader Samsung, which has a 30% share, followed by Micromax with around 25%. They're followed by Karbonn, Apple and Sony with roughly around 10% of the market.
In flat panels, the country's top two brands are Samsung and Sony's Bravia. Sony says it leads in the market for 46 inch LED TVs with a share of around 30%, with Samsung following closely behind. In the overall flat panel TV market, Samsung is the market leader. In other categories, Sony has more than a 50% share of the compact camera market.
Sony's India smartphone business is gaining ground on its Bravia flat panel televisions in terms of revenue. Currently, 5% behind, it's poised to exceed the television business in 2014-15.
The Bravia business contributes around 35% to Sony's India revenue. "We plan to significantly expand our smartphone product portfolio, sales and distribution points and marketing investment next year," Hibi said.
"The business strategy is similar to what we did to become market leaders in flat panel televisions — first gain leadership in the premium segment and then skim the entry-level," Hibi said.
Sony plans to introduce more than 10 new smartphone models in India this year, which will involve a few that cost less than.`10,000 compared with just one now. "Even in the entry segment, Sony will be a premium brand and will carve out its niche as compared to the Indian brands, which are only helping to grow the smartphone market," he said.
In the nine months ended December 2013, the company has maintained a growth momentum of 25-30% despite the tough macro-economic scenario, poor consumer sentiment and weakening rupee, Hibi said.