Sony seeks to challenge Samsung and Apple with 'phablet' launch

Sony Mobile: launches the Xperia Z Ultra phablet
Sony Mobile: launches the Xperia Z Ultra phablet

Sony Mobile is taking aim at Samsung and Apple with the launch of a hybrid mobile and tablet device it is positioning as "the world's slimmest HD smartphone with the world's largest screen", as well as introducing a new "smartwatch".

Pierre Peron, president of North West Europe at Sony Mobile, unveiled the Xperia Z Ultra "phablet" device in London this morning and billed the phone as a device that will allow consumers to create content as well as consume it.

The touchscreen allows consumers to write with any pencil on the screen rather than requiring a specific stylus, and has handwriting recognition, which will pit it against Samsung’s range of Galaxy Note devices.

Peron said the phone was designed to answer "a strong consumer demand for larger screens" and explained it would have Sony Bravia technologies integrated into it to provide "the best colour ever".

The device is aimed at taking advantage of the wider Sony Group’s range of content from its film and music divisions.

The phone will give users online and offline access to 100 years of music and 150,000 movies and TV shows.

Meanwhile, Thomas Waldner, global head of product design at Sony Mobile, revealed the SmartWatch 2, as speculation grows that Apple is preparing to unveil its own smartwatch.

Waldner said: "Sony has been leading the way in the smartwatch sector. We’ve been selling these since 2007 – it’s a really exciting area and we’ve known this for a long time. Everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon."

The SmartWatch 2 will be water resistant and has one-touch sharing via NFC, along with Facebook integration and a "beautiful product" design.

Speaking to Marketing after the event, Waldner said the latest iteration of its SmartWatch was a "huge difference" in comparison to previous efforts because "we’ve realised we have had to make the materials premium".

Waldner also said he believes smartwatches will win out against other wearable tech including Google Glass because audio devices that can be worn on the wrist "are the most socially acceptable".

He added that wearable tech will become a significant part of the overall tech market but will have a very long tail as companies beyond the mobile manufacturing giants move into the arena.

Peron claims an increase in marketing spend had managed to double brand awareness of the brand’s smartphones in the UK across the last six months.

He explained an increase in investment was required because "you can’t expect your brand awareness to increase by a miracle – it’s about levels of investment".

He concluded: "The first part of the year was about increasing brand awareness and the second part of the year is about converting brand awareness into preference."

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