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Sony Execs Detail TV, Content Strategies

1/23/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

LAS VEGAS — Sony’s top management detailed its
2012 TV and content market strategies during an international
media roundtable at a International CES
press event, here.

Sony Electronics’ Howard Stringer, chairman,
CEO and president; Kaz Hirai, executive deputy
president and officer in charge of consumer products
and service businesses; and Sony Electronics’
U.S. president/COO Phil Molyneux fielded questions
all things TV and Sony’s special role in providing
entertainment content via TV, tablets, smartphones,
PCs and PlayStation.

Stringer began the roundtable by saying Sony has
a three-pronged strategy — “networking, products
and content” — and how they work together. “Can
we get them right? That’s what we are working on.”

Molyneux said that for consumers in the U.S. who
have high expectations for networked TVs, “we have
some work to do to make a connectable TV a lot simpler
to operate and provide greater support.”

Stringer denied any plans, “To get out of the TV
business. We did discuss how to cut commoditization
… and make it a good business. We feel it is
by delivering unique content to the TV in the home,
and we have to sustain it … to find profitability. The
TV screen is still the most powerful screen with the
audience.”

When asked if Sony’s TV business will be profitable
by March 2014 as projected by the company,
Hirai expects it to be and said, “Our new Crystal LED
technology [which debuted at CES] will figure into it.”
Dissolving its flat-panel partnership with Samsung
will save 50 billion yen, he said, and Sony is looking to
“right-sizing our line.. We want to make sure we have
an efficient line and not an overlapping line of TVs.”

On 3D TV Hirai commented, “As with any new technology, it will take [time] before all TVs become
3D compatible. More content is becoming available,”
and he mentioned game software and movies
such as Sony’s own “Men In Black 3” to debut
in theaters later this year.

When asked why Sony turned to crystal LED vs.
OLED in flat screens, Stringer said, “It is the best
TV out there and it is our technology. We are proud
of it — it is in the high end where we will lead the
[category’s] recovery. We are proud that it is something
of our own.” Hirai added that Sony has OLED
on the pro side.

When asked about the possible threat an Apple TV
might be to the existing market, Stringer noted, “Early
in this century Apple married hardware and content
more effectively than we have. What our position is
that [the market] doesn’t need another box from Apple.
Sony can provide a seamless experience with our
TVs, Blu-ray players … PlayStation to provide [Sony]
content. We have to make that clear to customers and
get consumers excited. We are in the game.”

Hirai said that Sony’s strategy for enjoying content
is a “four-screen strategy of TVs, PCs, tablets
and smartphones.” Phones will be part of it since
Sony Ericsson, now called Sony Mobile Communications,
is now a full subsidiary of Sony and is “fully
aligned” which means “all product development in
one group and especially for networked products.”
And PlayStation and the handheld Vita device are
also “important to Sony convergence story and
profitability … it is very pivotal.”

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