Poor reaction to tableta bitter pill for Sony

SONY’S tablet computers failed to excite reviewers, who criticised the pricing and quality of the devices, underscoring the battle Sony faces regaining its consumer electronics crown.

Sony Corp is already late to the game with its first tablet, which hits American and Japanese stores this month, more than a year-and-a-half after Apple launched the iPad and almost a year since Samsung launched the GalaxyTab, which is No 2 in tablets behind the iPad.

Analysts highlighted a high price and features that suggested Sony would remain an also-ran rather than a leader in the tablet market. Two versions of Sony’s tablet cost €350 and €420, the same as some lower-end iPad models.

“Consumers want tablets, but they are not prepared to pay the same amount they’d pay for an iPad for something that’s not an iPad,” said Carolina Milanesi, analyst for tech firm Gartner.

Once a symbol of Japan’s high-tech might, the maker of the Walkman and PlayStation games console is struggling under the weight of its money-losing TV division and badly needs the boost of a hit product.

Worldwide tablet shipments are forecast to more than triple this year to 60 million tablets, then rise to 275.3m units by 2015, according to a report this month from research firm IHS iSuppli.

At a European launch in Berlin, Sony chief executive Howard Stringer brushed off concerns the company waited too long to get into the tablet market.

“We want to prove it’s not who makes it first that counts but who makes it better,” he said.

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