Come June 24th, Sony’s all new Xperia Ion will go on sale in the US for $99.99 with a two year contract. The all new Xperia Ion, to be sold by AT&T, is Sony’s latest attempt at bettering its predecessor Sony-Ericsson and making a comeback in the smartphone market.
The four-year old Xperia series has hardly made a mark in the US. Several Xperia smartphones were sold under the name ‘Sony Ericsson’ and when carriers Verizon Wireless and AT&T did take up the Xperia Play last year, it was a flop. Being Sony’s first 4G LTE smartphone for AT&T, and carrying Sony’s brand alone, the Xperia Ion’s success is crucial to Sony’s existence in the US smartphone arena and to its partnership with carriers.
Avi Greengart, who’s with Current Analysis, believes that having a successful phone line is a must for Sony to remain a force in consumer electronics. With an already fading reputation as a consumer electronics giant, Sony knows how much the success of the Xperia Ion matters. Sony, however, has high hurdles in its comeback path. The Xperia Play disaster did nothing to help Sony’s non-existent reputation in the phone market and Nokia and HTC are also looking to bounce back with improved models.
The Xperia Ion is the first smartphone after Sony bought out Ericsson’s stake for $1.47 billion and it is the first US-bound phone to bear solely Sony’s brand name. The Ion houses a video processor from Sony’s Bravia television series, thus boasting of superior quality of colours and images, an image sensor straight from Sony’s cameras and access to its online store of Playstation games.
While people at Sony are going gaga over the future of the Ion, AT&T has put it in its mid-tier level as an affordable LTE Android model. AT&T has recently been attempting to bring affordable LTE phones into the market with the HTC Vivid, $49.99, and Pantech Burst $29.99 already on sale. The Xperia Ion faces stiffest competition, however, from Nokia’s Lumia 900, also priced at $99.99. While the Lumia 900 runs on the not so popular Windows OS, AT&T has put in strong efforts to popularise it.
Whether or not AT&T will take as much pain in promoting the Xperia Ion as it did with the Lumia 900, only time will tell. Besides, Sony has gone for Android 2.3.7, and even though it has put in features from Android 4.0, it might just go unnoticed. Sneeden, however, revealed that Sony is planning to add to the marketing done by AT&T with its own sales teams.