The UAE has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world, with many people owning more than one mobile or smartphone. Where does the mobile market stand currently and what are the opportunities on the horizon?
CopywriterJournalist Managing Editor Farrukh Naeem spoke to Gita Ghaemmaghami, Regional Marketing Communications Manager at Sony Mobile Communications MEA, on the challenges and opportunities from the eyes of Sony.
Q. Where is the Middle East mobile market currently and where is it headed? Why is it important?
A. The Middle East is unique due to its mobile and internet penetration. IDC recently reported that there were 195 million unique mobile phone subscribers in the MENA region at the end of 2014. This is one of the highest penetration rates in the world, with the UAE at the top of the list at 83%, followed closely by Bahrain at 76%.
There is also early adopt of new technology by consumers in the region, they are aware of what’s available in the market and actively sort out products as soon as they are launched. This has resulted in a hyper connected community that is use devices to complete everyday tasks and to engage with one another.
Q. Which Sony mobiles are selling best? What is going out of fashion and what features are most in demand by users?
A. Each Xperia smartphone plays a role in meeting the demands in the market and bringing alternatives to consumers.
Our premium end offering, the Xperia Z series of smartphones is very popular for its sleek design and its premium look and top of the range performance, whereas our value smartphones, the Xperia M series and the Xperia C series, are a great way for consumers to have the latest Sony technology at a competitive price point. There has been equally strong demand for all ranges of Sony Mobile smartphones.
Our consumers have different requirements for their devices and we have accommodated this with creating smartphones and wearables that offer functionalities that appeal to a broad consumer set.
For example, our recently launched Xperia C4 Dual appeals to people who enjoy selfies and photos, due to the 5 megapixel front-facing camera. Alternatively, the Xperia M4 Aqua Dual appeals to consumers that want the best in functionality, at a price point that is attainable.
Q. What are the toughest challenges for mobile makers today? How are Sony and its competitors coping up and meeting these challenges?
A. We have a wide range of products and continue to evolve our offering, which requires us to continue to engage with consumers to communicate our latest releases. We have been successful in differentiating ourselves from our competitors which is important in competitive market like ours.
We believe there are multiple ways in which we stand out in the market.
Firstly, we have a great range of products that appeal to a board consumer set, as mentioned earlier. Secondly, we have an established presence and have drawn from our experience in other areas of our business, such as PlayStation, and have implemented these features into our products. Finally, we are ahead of the curve – we were one of the first brands to introduce a smartwatch onto the market. We are now on our third generation device, with the SmartWatch 3 which we launched at IFA in 2014.
We anticipated the popularity of wearable long before the market hype and this has given us time to continue to innovate and refine our offerings.
Q. Plastic or metallic? Large screen or small screen? Metal or glass? Buttons or touchscreen? Why, why not?
A. When it comes to smartphones, those that are made from metal and glass have a certain appeal and premium air to them.
With more consumers utilizing their smartphones to surf the internet, watch YouTube, and use social media, the trend is to make the screens larger, which supports the ease of touchscreen usage.
Sony Mobile uses premium designs, and brings innovative product attributes and quality to its product. We have a range of smartphones, tablets, and Smartwear that includes the best in-class features that Sony has built a global reputation for through development and innovation.
Q. What do you see the phones of tomorrow as having and being? Where do you see wearables, and Sony’s role in it?
A. Smartwear is gaining popularity in the region, and we have seen increased interest in the Sony Smartwatch 3 and the Sony Smartband Talk. Our recently launched SmartWatch 3, offers more independent features making it the perfect device when it’s away from the user’s smartphone. It includes functionalities perfect for everyday use, and the LifeLog application helps track the user’s everyday experiences.
We believe consumers are becoming more aware of the devices available on the market and are making more educated purchases. Smartphones are no longer a tool to make calls, send messages and connect to the internet. They are packed with functionalities that incorporate the elements that consumers need in the current hyper-connected world.
Sony Mobile enables consumers to make the Everyday, Extraordinary by using the wide range of Xperia Smartphones, Tablets and wearables.
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