By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York – Sony Electronics U.S. president Phil Molyneux said the company is finalizing shop-front 4K Ultra HD sales executions for 2013, which will leverage a fourth-quarter native 4K download service coming this summer.
Molyneux, speaking at a press meeting in New York’s American Museum of Natural History, said that thus far Sony has been “very selective about who we have been partnering with” because “the story needs to be told very carefully to the consumer.”
“It’s not just let’s ship to everyone and hope it happens,” Molyneux said.
Meanwhile, Molyneux diverged from a traditional spring business press round table to offer members of the consumer press side-by-side comparisons of key new Sony products against competitors’ closest comparable models to highlight Sony’s advantages and benefits.
High on the list of items was Sony’s 84-inch 4K Ultra High-Definition TV, which launched late last year, up against LG’s currently available 84-inch set. Also shown were new 55- and 65-inch XBR X900A series 4K Ultra HD LED LCD TV models, slated for arrival in late April/May at prices to be announced later.
Sony played up the superior 4K up-scaling engine in its UHD sets as well as a new front-firing, side-mounted magnetic fluid speaker system, in select models, which uses a floating magnetic driver design enabling virtually instantaneous response and reduced distortion. The system, which allows for optional subwoofer connections, provides speaker-bar-like sound quality in an on-board solution, Sony said.
Molyneux again reminded that Sony will launch this summer one of the industry’s first online native 4K programming services to support its lineup of sets. But he side-stepped queries about the recently announced PlayStation 4’s 4K capabilities, if any, leaving that to Sony Computer Entertainment executives to answer as the console moves closer to delivery.
Molyneux also presented the just announced Xperia Tablet Z that made its worldwide debut at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. Sony calls the Tablet Z the thinnest and lightest 10-inch class tablet in the market. It features a FullHD screen (1,920 by 1,200).
The Xperia Tablet Z will ship at the end of May in 16GB and 32GB versions. The former will carry a $499 suggested retail price. Pricing on the latter will be announced later.
The Xperia Tablet Z will be among 35 Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled products in the Sony 2013 “One Touch Strategy” product portfolio. The technology standard for smartphones, TVs and similar devices enables radio communication between devices by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity of one another to exchange content and data files, among other things.
Meanwhile, Molyneux told TWICE that Sony is deeply involved with building the second-screen experience – through which mobile devices like the Tablet Z and TVs, like its new 4K model line, can be linked in a common inter-active program viewing experience.
Among the obstacles to building momentum for the trend has been bringing the message to retail selling floors where the different product categories typically have been merchandised and sold in separate departments using separate retail buyers.
“Sony is building what I call our sell-through resources,” Molyneux explained. “Today, we have about 450 people in key high velocity stores that are Sony employed or contracted, and they have, currently, Xperia S tablets fully loaded with apps, and when they demonstrate the TV or the control of the TV with Sony equipment they are using that Xperia S tablet so they can tell the story right there, as it should be, to the consumer. Of course, we are going to upgrade them to the new Xperia Z shortly.”
Among second-screen apps Sony is playing up heavily this year in mobile devices, TVs and other products is an application called “TV Side View.”
The graphics-intensive software presents viewers with a visible list of images from television programs that are ready to view on a cable or satellite set-top box. It indicates how popular the program is, and allows the viewer to click on the icon to share what is being watched on social channels.
TV Side View also makes program recommendations based on an individual’s past viewing preferences.
“Rather than have to go through 1,100 channels, or whatever it is, this filters the selection process down and makes it much more personalized,” Molyneux explained.
TV Side View also allows the viewer to call up more information on the program being considered, including backgrounds on actors and directors.
In audio, Sony demonstrated new headphones including new X105 (March, $199) consumer over-the-ear model, and the pro-level MDR-7520 ($499) and in-ear 7550 models.
Molyneux also announced a consumer contest to find a marketing name for Sony’s new ball-shaped Bluetooth wireless speaker system (model number SRS-BTV5) for iPhone and Android devices. The tiny speaker emits 360-degree sound, includes a rechargeable battery and allows for interrupted speaker phone conferencing.
Sony also presented five Cybershot, NEX and Alpha camera models introduced Monday.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.