My Photo

Ordering Information

Tomi on Twitter is @tomiahonen

  • Follow Tomi on Twitter as @tomiahonen
    Follow Tomi's Twitterfloods on all matters mobile, tech and media. Tomi has over 8,000 followers and was rated by Forbes as the most influential writer on mobile related topics

Book Tomi T Ahonen to Speak at Your Event

  • Contact Tomi T Ahonen for Speaking and Consulting Events
    Please write email to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com and indicate "Speaking Event" or "Consulting Work" or "Expert Witness" or whatever type of work you would like to offer. Tomi works regularly on all continents

Tomi on Video including his TED Talk

  • Tomi on Video including his TED Talk
    See Tomi on video from several recent keynote presentations and interviews, including his TED Talk in Hong Kong about Augmented Reality as the 8th Mass Media


Blog powered by Typepad

« Smartphone Bloodbath Q1 of 2015 same ole, same ole | Main | Mobile First Means What? It Means SMS First, Of Course. The Only Gorilla In Mobile... Is SMS Text Messaging Of Course. 4.5x Bigger than total global smartphone apps ‘economy’ »

June 04, 2015



Well, the Xperia Z3 was not the best Android phone last fall and Z4/Z3+ is nothing more than a refresh with a newer chipset. Even if they branded it Z4 everywhere, people would see through it and would know that it's an old hat. Display and camera are a generation behind those found in Galaxy S6 and LG G4. Sony needs to do much more that name their new phone Z4 to be really competitive.

Wayne Borean

What if it was Kazuo Hirai-san who made the decision?

Personally I don't think it will make that big a difference. Sony is dying.

John Phamlore


A brief web search reveals that the number 4 may be considered unlucky in various Asian cultures, including Japan's. Furthermore the Wikipedia article

claims that Nokia itself for certain products avoided using the number 4 as the lead number.


Then they should have used 5, but making promotion with 4, then going back to 3+ is stupid. It clearly sounds like an inferior intermediate product.

abdul muis


Here's my thought.

In Japan and other part of asian where the upgrade rate were faster, they will love the incremental upgrade, and buy the Z4 with incremental upgrade.

But Sony face problem in the west. The american reviewer hate sony's twice a year phone release, and mock them. Every time they review the sony handset they always said. "this only incremental upgrade to previous (6 month ago) of the sony product. So, no good. don't buy". Sony think that maybe they could just make it a Z3+, so the Z5 will be compared with Z3 by those reviewer.

Yeah, i think it's annoying to have Z3+ and Z4 as the same product. But sony think the apple way of 3g/3gs, 4/4s might be the naming scheme that american could accept.


@abdul muis

"But Sony face problem in the west. The american reviewer hate sony's twice a year phone release, and mock them."

What is the presence of Sony in the North American market? Negligible. If your read newsgroups, people in the USA are often complaining that "the Sony model XYZ looks really nice, but we cannot get it in the USA".

I cannot imagine that Sony rebrands its product just to grab a hypothetical advantage in a market where it has not had any success for ages, in the hope that this slight change will completely upturn the sentiment of reviewers in the USA and lead to significant sales there.

The "4" phobia in Asia is more relevant. But then, issues remain:

How come Samsung could come up with a Note 4 and a Galaxy S4 without problem with the "4" then?

If "4" is indeed a real problem, how come no marketing-man in an _Asian_ company had identified the issue in the first place?

In any case, how come the marketing-men _downgraded_ the product code?

As for the other suggestion by Baron95 that the reason is a cease and desist warning, it fails for similar reasons: BMW Z1, Z2, Z3 lived with Xperia Z1, Z2, Z3 without fuss, whereas Z4 for a wine cannot be confused with Z4 for consumer electronics (a common argument in trademark disputes).

Overall, this renaming looks very much like complete disarray at Sony marketing -- and from the story of Nokia we know where it may end.


So Tomi has blocked his signature?

Now it is very easy to spot the Fake!


It, the Eloppian, spreads over air!

Warning: not send your CEO at conferences Elop Luminas around if you care about your company :-)


Well, Apple named their phones like iPhone 3, iPhone 3gs, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and now iPhone 6s.

Apple is still in business and why would the naming kill Sony and not Apple?


It's not the naming but the rebranding. Those on the look for the advertised Z4 won't find it in the stores anymore.


R U serious Tomi? All this just because someone named their phone 4 --> 3+? People are not as stupid as you think, they will still buy 3+ if they were to buy 4 or 4+ or even 5-! Do you really think naming makes the difference?

Even if it's a mistake it is not like the end of the world. Stop writing like you set the pace.

Per "wertigon" Ekström


It is a big deal. Their potential customers have been waiting and drooling for the Z4 for quite a while now, many will surely think "WTF? Z3+? That like the Z3 with a bigger screen or? That what we waited for?"

Any other time it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but right now Samsung is standing with their pants down and wondering why their latest party trick isn't as good as it should be. Now is *THE* perfect time to strike when it comes to premium Android phones.

And instead Sony basicly says "You know that Z4 that were gonna rock your world? Turns out it isn't that world-rocking, so we gave it a more proper name. But Z4, that WILL rock your socks off!"

That is the message they are sending to their loyal customers. Z3+ might rock your world, of course. But Sony downright admits, they don't think it will by branding it as Z3+ and not Z4.

Marketing 101: You never, ever downplay your flagship product. Sony just did.

Tomi T Ahonen

Hi everybody

Good comments. I'll do replies

Matjaz - The flagship cannot be best in every area, it is a compromise always from any brand. The Z4 aka Z3+ is exceptionally well balanced this time round and already the previous Z3 was doing very well for Sony. Specifically on the camera its better than the LG G4. On the display yes Samsung Galaxy is top dog currently. But against that the Xperia has two of the three things Samsung stupidly left out for the S6. I am certain the Z3+ will do ok in the market but this is silly by Sony because Z4 would have done better. Some customers won't buy the Z3+ thinking its a lesser product than what would have been the Z4.

Wayne - haha in that case he needs to resign. But this is something the CEO of Sony would not do suddenly. Its clearly the sign of the 'new guy' either at CMO or at the handset unit. And clearly its iEnvy doing what Apple does. Except done in an idiotic way. If they did it with their NEXT phone, going from Z4 to Z4+ that would not at least DAMAGE the existing business, because all marketing would then be for that next phone ie Z4+. But to go from marketing Z4 to selling Z3+ this will definitely cost them sales. This is costing sales - for which the marketing expenses have already been taken!!!! So its pure loss of profits, profits down the drain. Idiots.

John P - haha ok. I know that but first, if Z4 was such a bad thing 'in Asia' then WHY launch it at all in Japan? Secondly, if this was such a big deal for Sony, then they'd never have MARKETED the Z4 at all, and would have jumped from Z3 to Z5, like how Microsoft went from Win 8 to Win 10. But next, it clearly is not a deadly thing for most brands such as the Nikon I mentioned and their D4. But even if this was so - then why the change of the brand globally, why not only in those parts of Asia where the numerology is relevant like say China, Hong Kong etc, not Europe or the USA etc, where it matters exactly zero. And finally, if suddenly Z4 is a poisonous branding, then don't go back in numbers, go ahead. Make it Z5 not Z3+. After marketing Z4, to sell Z3+ suggests the product is a lesser thing.

Rotten - agreed. Thanks.

Baron - haha that might be, but we'd have heard about it. Nothing anywhere, not a whisper. And BMW Z4 has very little to argue about a phone, I don't think this is the case. In fact, Z3 is also a worse name for Sony right now than Z4 because Samsung's next - and definitely cheap - Tizen phone has been rumored for quite some while to be the Z3. If the Z3 branding is associated with cheap, best thing you can do is move away from it before Sammy gets that marketing going, and launch your Z4.

abdul - good analysis and perhaps that was part of what they thought. But. The twice-yearly launch cycle from Sony had ended already, with the Z3. The Z4 aka Z3+ is the first of the new once-yearly launch. So even if that was the case, it no longer matters because that twice-yearly cycle has already ended. It had ended BEFORE the Z4 marketing had started.

E - excellent analysis and responses to previous comments, thanks. I agree and I like the last part too, that this clearly signals just confusion at their marketing (bad management, fire the guy in charge!)

Spawn - haha...

AtTheBottom - no, its not that they have 'interim' numbering. Nothing inherently wrong with calling the NEXT phone the Z4plus or Z4Super or Z4C or whatever. The IDIOT thing is that this current product, the Z4 aka Z3+ had been MARKETED and shown to the world as the Z4. It has been in all sorts of tech reviews, clearly as the Sony Xperia Z4, compared to the Galaxy S5 and Edge, compared to the LG G4 and all sorts of other flagship phones. And its been launched for sale as the Z4 (in Japan). At THIS POINT to rebrand that individual device is ABSOLUTELY BAT-SHIT CRAZY. Especially for a small not-even-in-Top-10 sized player who cannot afford massive marketing expenditure for rebranding. What is even worse - truly ELOPPIAN blunder is to now go to a LESSER branding than what was marketed. If they went from Z4 to Z5plus, I'm ok with that. Or instead of Z4 to sell it as Z4+ that is fine. You can always claim in the marketing/branding that the latest thing is 'even' better, but you CAN'T go BACKWARDS.. From Z4 to Z3+ is a step backwards. After the initial branding was already done, that is TOTAL ERROR. There is ZERO utility or benefit out of this. Nothing. There is NO TEXTBOOK that suggests this is a smart thing to do. NEVER. This is only a mistake. 100% a mistake. No redeeming factor whatsoever (because the branding was already done on the Z4).

Tester - thanks, yes.

(ok more replies coming)

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi T Ahonen

More comments

T1 - No. I literally wrote the book on the marketing for this industry. If I see a colossal mistake, I would be cheating my readers and this blog would be a fraud. I was VERY clear when Sprint started to 'fire' some of its customers for 'complaining too much' that this was a MARKETING mistake that would damage the company severely (and it did, the CEO and CMO were later fired). I wrote very clearly when Nokia new CEO Elop made his MARKETING errors that they were destroying the company and would result in the handset business being sold - as it happened.

I see the biggest marketing error in mobile telecoms of the year, done by Sony, I will of course call it here on this blog. It IS a big deal. I was not the first to say so, go read Ewan Spence's article at Forbes, he called it a huge mistake as well - before I did. Plenty more mocking of Sony marketing going on right now by those who know.

About customers not being that stupid. I WROTE IN THE ORIGINAL that some customers will not care, and can see this is just a bizarre name but the phone is exactly what they came to buy, ie that Z4. Some will see that yes. OTHERS WILL NOT. Most don't care about this industry enough to bother. But when the Sony loyalist wanted 'the next' Z-class, they own a Z2 or Z3 Xperia, they will not now buy a Z3+, they will wait for 'the next proper Z' ie the Z4. Because Sony never had this 'iPhone-style' branding, the loyal Sony owners expect a Z4. Some will be - yes - dumb to fall for this and MANY will have been in the store looking at the Z3 perhaps wanting it, but not buying it, and thought, I'll wait for the Z4. They will now not even LOOK at the Z3+ thinking this is just a minor revision. And worst is the customer who knew to want the Z4, saw it reviewed somewhere. They will walk by the phone store, check out the Sony offering, might not even talk to the salesguys, and see, no Z4 yet here. I thought it was supposed to come out, its not out yet, ok I wait... and Sony loses a sale. By the time their NEXT phone comes out, whether its the Z4 or Z5 or Z3++ or Z3X whatever, by the NEXT phone the Samsung mistake will be corrected and Sony's short window of opportunity is gone.

Per - excellent points and that reminds me. The Plus concept is REALLY weird for Sony in iEnvy, in that the iPhone 6 Plus has the big screen. The Z3+ doesn't have the larger screen than the Z3. Why call it the Plus? It totally doesn't make sense even as iPhone-envy it is badly excecuted copying.

And yes, agree with all you posted especially the end, Marketing 101, you don't downplay your flagship product, ever.

Ok thats everybody so far, keep the comments coming

Tomi Ahonen :-)


@Baron95, it's a bit silly to say Nokia was doomed when they were still in the lead. If they had played their cards right with MeeGo, they likely would still be one of the big dogs, rather than Microsoft's pocket chihuahua.



"No one cared."

That's clearly not correct. What is true is that no AMERICAN cared. But people like you seem to get hung up on the bogus belief that the entire world consists of Americans.

abdul muis


"abdul - good analysis and perhaps that was part of what they thought. But. The twice-yearly launch cycle from Sony had ended already, with the Z3. The Z4 aka Z3+ is the first of the new once-yearly launch. So even if that was the case, it no longer matters because that twice-yearly cycle has already ended. It had ended BEFORE the Z4 marketing had started. "

Z4/Z3+ was release in H1 2015
Z3 was released in H2 2014
Z2 was released in H1 2014

No, the half year cycle has not gone yet as of now.

I think Sony planning to keep the half year cycle, but renamed it to 'small increment' for the country that can't afford 2 flagship/year idea. If you follow consumer product news (real smartphone rumors). Sony plan to release the Z5 with snapdragon 820 in H2 2015. and this time all market will have Z5. So, the western market will jump from Z3+ to Z5.

John A

Saw some reviews of this new Sony. Much better than Samsung Galaxy S6 in general. But yes the name is confusing.


"It was 100% apparent and obvious in 2009, that the trendsetting crowd was moving completely away from Nokia and Blackberry."

To Android? Because that is what happened, Android took over. And Nokia could still sell Android phones by the boat load if they produced them.


It's pretty clear that Nokia self-destructed by becoming a WP-only shop. Any claims otherwise are revisionist or self-deluding.

Nokia had developed Android devices during the time of the Microsoft contract, but only the Nokia X/XL made it to market. The Qualcomm hardware that Windows Phone runs on is also suitable for Android. Nokia had a major inventory write-off during WP7 time. None of this points to supply or engineering problems preventing the launch of Android phones.

I have posted several times the excellent interview with Jean-Louis Gassee with

He suggested Nokia to go Android before Elop became CEO. The reasons they didn't? Nothing about not being able to source enough components. Nothing about not having competent engineers to write low-level code. Nothing about fearing they wouldn't sell enough phones.
No, the reason he cited in the interview was fear to "lose control of their destiny".

The comments to this entry are closed.

Available for Consulting and Speakerships

  • Available for Consulting & Speaking
    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Helsinki but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

Tomi's eBooks on Mobile Pearls

  • Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising
    Tomi's first eBook is 171 pages with 50 case studies of real cases of mobile advertising and marketing in 19 countries on four continents. See this link for the only place where you can order the eBook for download

Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009

  • Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009
    A comprehensive statistical review of the total mobile industry, in 171 pages, has 70 tables and charts, and fits on your smartphone to carry in your pocket every day.

Alan's Third Book: No Straight Lines

Tomi's Fave Twitterati