CES 2019: Sony's Tech And Entertainment Divisions Are Finally In Tune

Annual CES press conference stressed process over new products
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Pharrell Williams at Sony's press conference

Pharrell Williams at Sony's press conference

For the first time in memory, Sony announced no new products at its annual CES press presentation, held yesterday in the company’s Las Vegas Convention Center booth.

Instead, the conglomerate spent 45 minutes discussing the complete intellectual property integration of its entertainment and electronics divisions.

Under the chairmanship of Sir Howard Stringer between 2005-2013, the two divisions were largely walled-off, a segregation many observers believe contributed to Sony's decline in electronics prominence. But after Kazuo "Kaz" Hirai took over the company, then moved up to chairman as current president and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida took over day-to-day operations, "Sony finally leveraged its content and broader Sony technology business," Yoshida explained.

Related: Yoshida Not Your Traditional Tech Exec

To illustrate Sony's more tightly-integrated creative and technological approach, several Sony creative executives and creators took the stage to explain how their creative process and production was aided by Sony technology, and how Sony electronics helped delivered their creations to consumers — to the benefit of all Sony divisions.

"A critical part of the life span of movie content is the home entertainment window following its theatrical run," said Tom Rothman, president of Sony Pictures Entertainment. "And audiences watching great film and television content at home want the best possible home theater experience." Rothman cited the close collaboration between Sony camera engineers and filmmakers, most prominently “Avatar” director James Cameron.

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Next, Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson, along with “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller, discussed how Sony tech was integrated into their creative process. Then Rob Stringer, CEO of Sony Music Entertainment, cited Sony's Lost in Music campaign, "where hot new Sony artists use Sony tech to promote their music."

Phil Lord and Chris Miller, creators of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," talk Sony tech and the creative process.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller, creators of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," talk Sony tech and the creative process.

Stringer then introduced Pharrell Williams, who rhapsodized about a recent trip he took to Tokyo to experience Sony's newest sound reproduction technology, 360 Reality Audio. But the process, aimed at creating spherical sound mixes using MPEG-H that can be streamed and listened to through new types of headphones and speakers, isn't simply another attempt at multi-channel headphones. "Sony wanted to provide more creative options for artists, which led us to the next level of innovation," noted Stringer — a development aim seconded by an enthusiastic Williams.

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