According to new reports by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, following Sharp’s new agreement with SoftBank and Sprint announced in the last couple of weeks, Sony Mobile is the latest manufacturer to cut a new distribution deal with SoftBank that will also benefit Sprint in the US with an expanded range of smartphones and tablets. While everyone involved is refusing immediate comment on the reports, the deal is expected to be announced during the IFA tradeshow being held next week with the launch of a new flagship Z3 model, while more details on Sprint’s end of the deal are expected during the CTIA tradeshow the week following IFA.
Such a distribution deal would be a major boon for Sony Mobile, which has struggled to cut such deals with US carriers after the failure of their last major release as Sony Ericsson in the Xperia Play and subsequently losing crucial support from both AT&T and Verizon as a result. AT&T previously focused heavily on selling Sony Ericsson phones and smartphones, even during the iPhone exclusivity period, while Verizon worked directly with Sony Ericsson on a CDMA version of the Play, the failure of which cost Sony Ericsson dearly in terms of that relationship with Verizon, as the phone was meant to revive CDMA device development after years of direct refusal to develop such devices for the US.
Now with the new deal between SoftBank and Sprint imminent, Sony Mobile would be able to take advantage of the improved marketing and carrier sales channels to sell devices instead of solely relying on direct sales of unlocked devices in the US. While Sony Mobile has had carrier deals in the past with T-Mobile for select current devices such as the Z and Z1, the carrier has apparently decided that the sales volume was too low to continue carrying Sony Mobile devices, nor did the carrier place much marketing effort behind those devices compared to other brands, focusing the majority of its UnCarrier marketing behind Samsung’s Galaxy line and the iPhone, despite new rumors pegging the forthcoming Z3 flagship for the carrier.