Sony has unveiled its latest flagship tablet, the Xperia Tablet Z, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, promising a "breakthrough year" for the brand.

But what does that really mean?

With industry figures still showing Sony behind Samsung, Apple and even Huawei in global marketshare, it clearly has a way to go in terms of consumer penetration. And while its Xperia Z smartphone has won solid reviews ahead of its UK release this week, it's an open question whether the brand itself is resonating outside the MWC halls.

We caught up with Sony Mobile Communications marketing director Catherine Cherry at MWC to ask what 2013 really looks like for the brand - and whether it involves that mysterious object of desire, the PlayStation 4...

This is an edited version of a longer interview conducted in person at Mobile World Congress

What stands out about the Xperia Tablet Z?

The first thing you'll notice is thinness and lightness of the tablet. It's the thinnest 10-inch tablet in the world at just 6.9mm. Also it's extremely light - it weighs in at less than 500 grams. You can see around the edge we have this - what we call a skeleton structure made of polyamide material which is really strong, and is often used in manufacturing cars. Then we have on the back this piece which is made of glass fibre, which is very soft to the touch. That material is also very durable and light. Finally on the front we have this beautiful screen, which is covered with tempered glass and an anti-shatter film.

tabletz

Above: the Xperia Tablet Z


Sony has a big year with gaming and other products, it feels like the pieces are starting to come together. Is that the case with Xperia in 2013 - that we're going to see how this fits together in a more consistent way?

That's the test, whether people externally see that... From our point of view, with what we're showing here it's exactly that happening across our line. You can now see our media applications across our mobile devices, and again with NFC that's at the heart of what our customers want to do. One of the behaviours that people want to do is connect their pieces together.

What about the PS4 - is Xperia going to have a role there?

All I can say for now is that gaming is really important, it's one of the three pillars of what Sony as a whole are focusing on, so mobile, digital imaging and gaming have been identified as the three core experiences that Sony really wants to focus on as the wider strategy. Of course that PlayStation Mobile logo on our Xperia gives you access to PS Mobile games across the tablet and the smartphone. It's a focus area. I can't really tell you much more than that for the moment.

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At MWC this year Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said that 2013 would be a 'breakthrough year' for Sony Xperia - what does that really mean, and how will you tell if it's worked?

It's now the one year anniversary of us becoming 'Sony Mobile' and we've been working on these products for a really, really long time. The Xperia Z smartphone has had massive traction with great consumer feedback and five-star reviews. We're expecting high demand on that and it's a fantastic smartphone.

This tablet is - of course - our next product and follows in that footsteps... We've been focusing on making sure you get the same UI experience and a benefit from having more than one... All that innovation is coming back into the Sony portfolio, and that's why we really think 2013 will be a breakthrough year.

What about the wider Sony heritage and history - is that still going to play a part?

The heritage and the experiences that Sony has offered in the past and continues to offer is really very important for us. You can see that today in the press conference we talked about 'Watch Create Listen Play', and those are the core experiences we're focus on. You can see those visualised in the core icons we have on the home screen - they reflect those ideas. That's why consumers come to Sony - for the best-in-class entertainment.

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    A man holds Huawei's new smartphone 'Ascend P2' after a press conference in Barcelona on February 24, 2013, a day before the start of the 2013 Mobile World Congress. The 2013 Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile fair, is held from February 25 to February 28 in Barcelona. AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

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    A woman takes pictures in front of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 24, 2013, a day before the start of the 2013 Mobile World Congress. The 2013 Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile fair, is held from February 25 to February 28 in Barcelona. AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)

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    People take pictures of Huawei's new smartphone 'Ascend P2' after a press conference in Barcelona on February 24, 2013, a day before the start of the 2013 Mobile World Congress. The 2013 Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile fair, is held from February 25 to February 28 in Barcelona. AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: Drivers wait for their Mobile World Congress 2013 attendees at the Barcelona - El Prat Airport on February 24, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. Airport Authorities are expecting an increase of more than 100,000 people passing though Barcelona's airports between February 22 and March 4, coinciding with the hosting of the Mobile World Congress 2013. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

  • Mobile World Congress 2013 - Previews

    BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: Drivers wait for their Mobile World Congress 2013 attendees at the Barcelona - El Prat Airport on February 24, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. Airport Authorities are expecting an increase of more than 100,000 people passing though Barcelona's airports between February 22 and March 4, coinciding with the hosting of the Mobile World Congress 2013. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: Workers finalize the last details ahead the opening day of the Mobile World Congress 2013 at the Fira Gran Via complex on February 24, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. 70,000 visitors will visit the Mobile World Congress 2013 where 1,500 exhibitors will present the last wireless communication technologies. The congress runs from Frebuary 25 through February 28. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

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    People walk outside the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 24, 2013, a day before the start of the 2013 Mobile World Congress. The 2013 Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile fair, is held from February 25 to February 28 in Barcelona. AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: A visitor works on his computer the day before of the Mobile World Congress at the Fira Gran Via complex on February 24, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. 70,000 visitors will visit the Mobile World Congress 2013 where 1,500 exhibitors will present the last wireless communication technologies. The congress runs from Frebuary 25 through February 28. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

  • Mobile World Congress 2013 - Previews

    BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: A visitor takes pictures at the main entrance of the Mobile World Congress 2013 at the Fira Gran Via complex on February 24, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. 70,000 visitors will visit the Mobile World Congress 2013 where 1,500 exhibitors will present the last wireless communication technologies. The congress runs from Frebuary 25 through February 28.(Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

  • Mobile World Congress 2013 - Previews

    BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: A visitor sits on a Barcelona sign at the main entrance of the Mobile World Congress 2013 at the Fira Gran Via complex on February 24, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. 70,000 visitors will visit the Mobile World Congress 2013 where 1,500 exhibitors will present the last wireless communication technologies. The congress runs from Frebuary 25 thorough February 28. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

  • Mobile World Congress 2013 - Previews

    BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: Workers leaves the Fira Gran Via complex after finishing the last details ahead the opening day of the Mobile World Congress 2013 at the Fira Gran Via complex on February 24, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain. 70,000 visitors will visit the Mobile World Congress 2013 where 1,500 exhibitors will present the last wireless communication technologies. The congress runs from Frebuary 25 through February 28. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

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