It’s been years since Sony has been a major player in the smartphone space. But the company continues to crank out new phones year after year, and sometimes it even sells some of them.
Now, despite only shipping about 400 thousand phones in the fourth quarter of 2020, Sony says its phone business has actually turned a profit for the first time in years.
Maybe that means Sony won’t follow LG’s example and pull out of the smartphone space anytime soon.
While delivering the company’s most recent financial results, Sony executives note that:
The Mobile Communications business, which had been an issue for us, was
able to record a large profit which exceeded our initial expectations.
In other words, Sony seems to have surprised even itself by turning a profit in the smartphone space. At least part of the turnaround can likely be attributed to cost cutting as much as sales. The company says “reductions in operating costs, mainly within Mobile Communications” helped increase its year-over-year revenue.
It also probably doesn’t hurt that many of the phones Sony does sell are high-priced devices, so the company may not have to sell a lot of them to earn a decent return on investment. And they’re getting more expensive all the time – the Sony Xperia PRO introduced earlier this year is a $2500 phone that can also work as a viewfinder for high-end cameras.
Overall, Sony shipped about 2.9 million smartphones in 2020, which is down from 3.2 million in the preceding year. So while the company’s mobile business is profitable, it’s also shrinking in some ways. So it’s unclear exactly what this means for the future.