Sony China announced on October 15th that it had formed a strategic partnership with Meizu Flyme. Based on keeping the original Android operating system in the new Xperia 1 III and other new products, it plans to pre-install or give consumers the ability to download some Flyme adaptation applications.
Sony has been lagging in the mobile phone market for a long time. It only sold 2.9 million mobile phones worldwide last year. The total global mobile phone shipments in the same year were 1.3 billion, with Sony accounting for barely 0.2 percent.
Meizu’s market share plummeted after it dropped the Meizu Blue brand in 2018. Its domestic market share was barely 1% in the fourth quarter of that year, a significant loss of 79 percent year on year. Meizu’s domestic market share was barely 0.3 percent in the third quarter of 2020.
According to industry insiders, China has traditionally been the world’s largest mobile phone market, and the Sony brand is still well-known in the home market. This time’s collaboration with Flyme shows that it hasn’t given up on the Chinese market and is looking to make a comeback.
According to data given by reputable market organizations, the number of smartphone users in the Chinese market will reach 912 million in 2020, more than double the second-ranked Indian market and less than a fourth of the third-ranked US market.
In an official statement, Sony referred to Meizu Flyme as China’s premier Android customization system and anticipated that it would help the Sony Xperia series of mobile phones offer a more comprehensive localization experience. Flyme is a Meizu-developed smartphone operating system based on the Android platform. It has over 100 million users and has been online for over 9 years. It has created user interfaces, themes, and software that comes pre-installed.
However, the question is, why did Sony collaborate with Meizu, which is progressively becoming a small factory, rather than Xiaomi, which has greater market sales and over 300 million MIUI users per month?
According to industry analysts, Sony will not fully integrate Flyme into its mobile phones instead of focusing on some Meizu-specific localized applications. Meizu Flyme’s design is “compact and fresh,” which contrasts with Sony’s “business succinct” style; Meizu Flyme may be unable to handle Sony’s high-performance camera feature.
It will take time to see if Sony’s partnership with Meizu can truly conquer the Chinese market. The biggest companies in the domestic mobile phone market are now concentrated, making it difficult to break into the top tier.
According to Counterpoint Research, the top six domestic mobile phone market sales in July 2021 were Vivo, OPPO, Xiaomi, Honor, Apple, and Huawei. These six manufacturers had a combined market share of 92 percent, while other mobile phone brands could only claim a sliver of the pie. Only 8% of the meal has been consumed.
Furthermore, Phoenix Network Technology discovered that, in addition to localization, there is still a lot of space for Sony mobile phones to improve their user experience. “Buying a Sony phone for 8,000 yuan, the last WeChat failed,” one user wrote after purchasing a Sony phone. “Started with the value of the face, and finally experienced it.”
It’s possible that relying solely on Meizu Flyme will not be enough to fix Sony’s reclaiming its glory in the mobile phone market. Customers can be won by providing a high-quality experience at a high price.