Sprint, the United States mobile carrier owned by Japanese tech giant SoftBank, may be selling Sony’s next Xperia smartphone for the first time.
The decision to sell the Xperia is part of Sprint’s strategy to widen its smartphone lineup to retain the company’s customers and to attract new ones.
SoftBank, the second most valuable company in Japan, will also be supplying the flagship phone of Sony in its home country.
SoftBank continues to push price reductions and promos at Sprint, which is currently the third-largest carrier in the United States. Sprint is looking to make a big splash in the market, after regulators denied the company’s planned merger with T-Mobile that would have propelled the company into worthy competition with the two largest carriers in the country, Verizon and AT&T.
In addition to boosting Sprint’s offerings with hopes of retaining its customers, the move will also rejuvenate the struggling mobile phone division of Sony, which the company said is not expected to turn in profits from the current period until March of next year.
Sony is one of the best known brands of Japan. However, it is currently having difficulties in making a profit from its main electronics business, as the company is not able to gain any form of traction within the smartphone market in the United States. Sony was looking towards its mobile electronics unit to revive the brand, but so far the division has failed in doing so.
Sony was only able to gain 2.1 percent of the worldwide smartphone market last year, as reported by research company Gartner. The company is facing even more challenges this year with the rise of several low-cost smartphone manufacturers from China such as Xiaomi.
Of all the carriers in the United States, only T-Mobile is offering Sony handsets.
Sony is looking to release the newest Xperia smartphone, the Z3, at the IFA tech expo in Berlin next week.
However, the partnership with Sprint may not be enough for Sony to be able to catch up with market leaders Apple and Samsung.
“I can’t see this making much of a difference,” said Yasuo Nakane, an analyst from Deutsche Bank. He said that it is more important for Sony to strike a deal with one of the top two U.S. carriers to gain a significant share in the country’s smartphone market.
“Even if they put out a phone on Sprint, Verizon is the priority any way you think about it,” Nakane added.
However, Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities analyst Masahiro Ono saw the partnership as a positive thing for Sony.
“They haven’t been able to maintain very good relationships with carriers, unlike Samsung who has done very well,” Ono said.