Sony to introduce a tablet to challenge Apple

MARIKO YASU
Last updated 10:00 24/01/2013
tablet

Sony's Xperia Tablet Z device.

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Sony, the electronics maker struggling after four straight annual losses, will introduce a new tablet computer in Japan this year as it tries to lure customers from Apple and Samsung.

The Xperia Tablet Z will be 6.9 millimeters thick, weigh 495 grams and have a 10.1-inch (26-centimetre) display, Sony said in a statement. The waterproof device may debut in Japan as soon as March before appearing elsewhere, Noriko Shoji, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman, said by phone. The price hasn't been decided, she said.

Sony chief executive officer Kazuo Hirai is focusing on mobile devices to revive the company, whose TV unit has been unprofitable for eight straight fiscal years. The Tokyo-based company debuted its first tablet in 2011, making it the last of the world's top 10 laptop makers to tap surging demand triggered by Apple's iPad.

"It's a rational strategy for Sony to focus on mobile devices including tablets as its TV business is no longer a cash cow," said Keita Wakabayashi, an analyst at Mito Securities in Tokyo. "Still, the tricky part of the tablet business is that products can conflict with laptop computers on one hand and smartphones on the other."

Tablet demand

Worldwide tablet shipments probably totaled 120 million last year and may reach 340 million by 2016, market researcher IHS's iSuppli said in December.

In October, Apple introduced a smaller version of the iPad with a 7.9-inch screen and prices starting at $369. Sony also faces competition from Amazon.com's updated Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7.

Sony got 18 per cent of sales from mobile products and communications in the quarter ended September, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It bolstered the division by buying out Ericsson AB's stake in a venture making mobile phones last year.

--Bloomberg

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