It's Sony's turn to shine a light on the mobile 2013 highlights. We've been speaking to the mobile giant about the past, present and future of tech.
2013’s been a great year for mobile, but now it’s time for 2014 to steal the show. At Vodafone Social, we’ve been catching up with all our biggest manufacturing partners to see what they’ve made of 2013, and what they know is coming over the next year.
Today it’s Sony’s time to spill the beans. So what’s been the biggest news at Sony HQ over the past 12 months?
“From a brand point of view, Sony has become very much relevant again,” says Catherine Cherry, Marketing Director of Sony Mobile here in the UK. “We’ve launched a lot of fantastic products, we’ve won a load of awards and had some great feedback on them.”
And there’s been one single letter to thank for all of that: Z. “It’s really worth highlighting the Xperia Z series as our biggest achievement. It all started with the Xperia Z, which we announced at CES the beginning of the year. That was a huge product for us, and introduced a lot of new concepts, like bringing water resistance to a premium, high-end and flagship smartphone.
“Since then, we’ve launched the Tablet Z, the Z Ultra and the Xperia Z1, all of which have had outstanding feedback. All of those are 4G devices, too, so we’re well placed to help customers who want to get 4G, or who want to futureproof themselves for the arrival of 4G in their area.”
And all that hard work has paid off, as Catherine explains:
“There’ve been a lot of awards this year, which has been good fun. The beginning of the year felt really special for us because we were launching the Z series and we won the Best of CES award.
“That’s probably the one that meant the most because it was the first big award that we won. From there it’s rolled on and on; we won an award for the Xperia Z Ultra at Recombu recently, which means a lot because it was consumer voted. I think those are the two to highlight.”
Striking a balance
We wanted to know what it is that Catherine feels has made the Z series so special, and why the devices under that moniker have garnered such great reviews and a multitude of UK awards.
“The design of the Z series really stands out for me,” she explains. “We refer to the design as an omni-balance, which essentially means that the devices feel right when you hold them in your hands – the weighting is really well thought-through and we’ve put a lot of attention into the craftsmanship and the detail. Things like where the power button sits, how it feels when you press it, and bringing water resistance (and then later full waterproofing with the Z1 and Z Ultra) are really nice.”
Although Sony’s not just been busy when it comes to aesthetics. “2013’s been a real focus on both design and the introduction of new Sony technologies. We’ve become faster and faster at bringing new technology from other Sony products like TVs and cameras into our mobile devices.”
Looking to the future
So 2013’s been a big year for Sony, with the launch of its biggest flagship range in recent memory. But with the dust settled on that chapter, what does Catherine think about the shape of the industry as a whole? And how has that shaped Sony’s decisions?
“If you pull out one big emerging trend away from this year, it has to be wearable tech. It’s an area that we’re really sure is going to grow in 2014, and will continue to move further towards becoming a mainstream technology and a mainstream part of everyday life. I’m talking about smart watches and lots of other wearable tech.
“We’ve got the Sony Smartwatch 2, which works with Xperia devices as well as other Android devices. We’ve had great response to that, and it’s a focus area for us – it’s definitely a big area to keep an eye on in 2014.
“If you pull out one big emerging trend away from this year, it has to be wearable tech.”
“For us and the wider industry as well, camera technology has also been a big trend this year,” Catherine adds. “The camera technology that’s gone into the Xperia Z1, for instance, has become a lot closer to what you can expect to get from a dedicated compact camera.
“You’ve got a smartphone that looks like any other smartphone, but hidden inside that there’s an amazing camera with a large, 21-Megapixel sensor, and all the social things you can do with that. This is the first time that there’s been this level of camera quality in a smartphone without having to make any compromises with the size of your device.”
With that in mind, what’s coming next? What will be coming out of Sony HQ in the near future?
“People can expect to see a lot more innovation from Sony in 2014,” says Catherine. “We’re putting consumers first and working closer than ever with all the other parts of Sony to make sure that technologies from other areas are coming to our phones quicker.
“Putting the smartphone at the heart of your entertainment world is really important for us.”