Sony (NYSE:SNE) makes smartphones and it even has a flagship model called the Xperia.
You can forgive most people for not knowing that because despite the company's repeated efforts, it's not one of the market share leaders, according to research from Gartner. The company actually ended 2014 with 377,920 phones sold, good for 2% of the global market. That's a slight improvement over 2013 when it sold 375,960 units, but actually commanded 2.1% of the then slightly smaller market.
It's an embarrassing place for the consumer electronics titan to find itself, but the company plans to take another shot at the market with the Xperia Z4. The company has been tight on details about its new flagship phone, but did post a press release about it on its Japanese language website. That info was first translated by TechCrunch and later by other sites which revealed some of the secrets of the new phone.
The specs haven't changed much
The new Z4 looks a lot like the Z3, according to TechCrunch. It has the same 5.2-inch screen and the same impressive 20.7-megapixel rear-facing camera. The device has gotten thinner at 6.99 mm and the front-facing camera now has a wide-angle lens. Zperia Z4 has 3GB of RAM and runs Android 5.0 Lollipop on a Snapdragon 810 processor.
Because so many of the specs are not all that different, TechCrunch's Jon Russell does not have high hopes for it.
"The Xperia Z4 is another iterative product and, while the Xperia Z3 received positive reviews, it didn't sell particularly well, which makes it hard to see how sticking to the same recipe will dig the company out of its rut on mobile," he wrote.
It has no U.S. launch date
While the phone is set to debut in Japan at some point this summer, according to the Japanese release, a launch date for the United States has not been announced. It's possible, TechRadar reported, that it could be released internationally at the same time or that it could hit Japan first then other markets.
"We think it's likely that the phone will be launched outside of Japan but we may have to wait as late at September for IFA 2015 to hear anything concrete," wrote the United Kingdom's PC Advisor, which cited info from an accessories supplier to Sony.
James Bond may be using it
One of the less-salacious bits of news to come out of the Sony email hacking scandal is that the Xperia Z4 may be featured in the new James Bond movie Spectre. The Verge reported, according to the hacked documents, that the company has offered to pay $5 million to place its flagship phone in the current Bond's, Daniel Craig, hand, and neither the actor nor the director were that happy about it.
An email from Andrew Gumpert, president of "worldwide business affairs" at Columbia, sent an email which shared the concerns of the Bond actor and Sam Mendes, the film's director:
BEYOND the $$factor, there is, as you may know, a CREATIVE factor whereby Sam and Daniel don't like the Sony phone for the film (the thinking, subjectively/objectively is that James Bond only uses the "best," and in their minds, the Sony phone is not the "best").
That's a bit of a blow to the Sony phone, but it's actually a pretty reasonable reaction given how consumers view the Zperia line (if they consider it at all).
Sony needs a gamechanger
The release of a new flagship phone, which does nothing spectacular and does not stand out much from its failed predecessors, seems like a bizarre choice by Sony. To gain traction in the crowded smartphone market, a company needs to do something to stand out.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has gone downmarket with its Lumia line selling relatively high-powered phones for low prices. Other players have had some success doing the same thing with Android phones courting customers that don't want to pay the prices Apple and Samsung charges for their top-tier offerings.
With the Z4 Sony has built a seemingly decent phone that is unlikely to do better than any previous member of the line. It's a strategy pre-destined to fail.
Daniel Kline owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. He just got sent a press release about Star Wars Duck Tape. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.