October 28, 2020

Sony phone sales last quarter were so bad that we don’t even know what to say

Sony can put some of the blame on COVID-19, sure, but not all the blame. The division is in serious trouble.

sony xperia 5 review

Today, Sony announced its quarterly revenue report for the first quarter of 2020, the end of its fiscal year. While there was certainly some good news in the announcement, the elephant in the room is Sony smartphone sales, which have now hit a record low.

According to the report, there were only around 400,000 Sony smartphones shipped in the first quarter of the year. That is really, really bad. In fact, Sony started with a low estimate of 700,000 units shipped for the quarter — but it couldn’t even meet that.

For the sake of comparison, Samsung reportedly sold over 400,000 units of the Samsung Galaxy S20 series in a matter of weeks in the United States alone — and that’s a weak showing for the company.

Sony smartphone sales are really bad, but why?

Obviously, part of the blame for these low Sony smartphone numbers can be placed on the COVID-19 pandemic, which no doubt affected both supply and demand for the company’s phones. However, there isn’t an investor alive who wouldn’t see that Sony’s smartphone division clearly has a massive problem regardless of the pandemic.

Related: Sony makes great phones but that’s not all it takes to succeed in this industry

Granted, Sony is kind of shooting itself in the foot when it comes to phones, considering that the company’s newest major product — the Sony Xperia 1 II, announced in February — is yet unavailable to consumers. It’s hard to sell smartphones when consumers can’t, you know, buy your newest smartphones.

In the report, Sony declined to provide a forecast for the next fiscal year. Once again, the pandemic is the likely excuse for this, but it’s far more likely that it doesn’t want to continue to set low bars for itself and then not even meet them.

So far, Sony has stood firm that it will never abandon its smartphone division and will continue to keep it afloat by downsizing operations and using the success of other divisions to prop it up. The question is: how long can it do that before it becomes a ridiculous endeavor?

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