* Xperia Z1 will be available as of September
* Smartphones key for Sony's turnaround
* Smartphone segment is rapidly saturating
BERLIN, Sept 4 Sony Corp. unveiled a
new smartphone on Wednesday in its push to become the world's
third-biggest maker of smartphones after Samsung and Apple.
Sony's Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai told a news conference in
Berlin, where Europe's largest consumer electronics trade show
will open its doors this week, the Sony Xperia Z1 will be
available in September.
"The Xperia Z1 embodies everything Sony has to offer," said
Hirai, who is under pressure from U.S. hedge fund manager Daniel
Loeb to split up the company to revive its electronics business.
The new waterproof smartphone will come with a 5-inch
display and have a 20.7 megapixel rear-facing camera.
The company did not give a retail price nor say which
carriers would offer the phone.
Hirai in 2012 identified mobile products, gaming and digital
imaging as the core of a rebound in consumer electronics after
more than a decade of decline for the pioneer of personal music
players and compact discs. It had a record loss of $5.74 billion
in the 2011/12 fiscal year.
Of those three priorities, mobile has since emerged as the
best near-term hope for Sony although it has a long way to go.
According to research firm Gartner Sony didn't place among
the top five smartphones makers in the second quarter of this
year. Overall Sony was the ninth-biggest mobile handset maker
with a 2.2 percent market share, up from 1.7 percent in the
Sony's problems are similar to those of Nokia which is still
the world's second-largest in overall phones, but it struggles
to sell the high-margin smartphones.
Two years after hitching its fate to Microsoft's Windows
Phone software, the Finnish phone maker that once dominated the
global market collapsed into the arms of the U.S. software
giant, its mobile business ravaged by nimbler rivals Apple Inc
and Samsung Electronics.
Sony's goal is to fend off challenges from China's Huawei
Technologies and ZTE Corp and Korea's LG
Electronics to secure the No. 3 slot in the global
smartphone market, behind Samsung and Apple
which between them account for about half of all smartphones
sold, according to Gartner data.
Samsung on Wednesday unveiled a smartwatch and the latest
version of the Galaxy Note phone-cum-tab, while Apple has sent
official invitations to a Sept. 10 event at which it is expected
to unveil the latest version of the iPhone, possibly in colors
other than its trademark black and white.
Sony has forecast smartphone sales to rise more than 20
percent to 42 million in the year to next March.
Research firm IDC expects industry-wide smartphone shipments
to grow 32.7% in 2013, reaching 958.8 million units, up from
722.5 million units last year and marking the first year that
smartphone shipments surpass those of feature phones.
Sony also took the wraps off two smartphone lenses which can
also be used on most other smartphones via an adapter.
The lenses will have a 18.2 megapixel and 20.2 megapixel