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CES Reflections

I’m breathing a lot easier now thatInternational CES is over, and on balance I believe Sony distinguished itself pretty well at the show.

We did receive our share of awards and kudos for the P-series Vaio lifestyle (“not a netbook”) PC, the Wi-Fi Cyber-shot camera, the Eco-Bravia TVs and the top-of-the line Internet capability built right in XBR 9 televisions, not to mention the Webbie HD camcorders, the new Walkman with an OLED display and the headphone-style Walkman introduction.

Our press conference before more than 800 journalists went off without a hitch. Stan Glasgow, the president and COO of Sony Electronics, delivered all of the new product news, while acknowledging the tough economic times and how Sony will continue to innovate to stay on top.  And I managed kick off things from the adjoining “Jeopardy!” set without tripping over my lines or on the floor.

Sir Howard Stringer’s opening day keynote, on the other hand, turned out to be more of a challenge.  I think we just tried to do too much in a one-hour window with so many celebrity guests like Tom Hanks, Usher, John Lasseter, Jeffery Katzenberg and Reggie Jackson, plus technology demonstrations of 3-D, the flex OLED and cool video glasses along with key new products like the Wi-Fi camera and the P-series notebook.  

Fortunately, the heart of Sir Howard’s message centering around “seven imperatives” for the CE industry received some good media coverage in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, as did our initiatives in 3-D, the Wi-Fi Cyber-shot and the Vaio P introductions. 

The blog team and I did a bunch of videos, including interviews with Sony execs, individual product and technology reports, and discussions with Alex Trebek of “Jeopardy!” and his technical coordinator, who coordinated the technical production details behind the 11 show tapings after CES hours every night with its new 25th Anniversary set.

I see that the Consumer Electronics Association is estimating total attendance of around 110,000 people.  This would be down from last year’s total of about 140,000.  I suspect CEA is low-balling it a bit, so the final numbers will come out better than they are now projecting.  But in any case, the show was obviously less jam-packed than last year.  I know at Sony, we cut down on the number of employees attending, but I do believe our impact was pretty large — more than I expected, and for that I am very grateful. 

And, despite the economy, my guess is we’ll be back at CES again next year.