Sony travels to CEDIA Expo 2011 here this week to dispel notions that it is less than fully committed to the future viability of its TV business.
Following a disappointing first-quarter financial report issued in late July, reports surfaced in Japan quoting Sony executives saying economic and market conditions might force the company to reassess its future direction in video display products, which has long been the company’s bread-and-butter.
But heading into this week’s CEDIA Expo, Mike Fasulo, Sony sales operations executive VP, told TWICE, “The TV business remains a core part of Sony’s electronics business worldwide. Under a sluggish TV market situation, especially in the U.S., we are currently working on plans in our TV business to return to profitability.”
He repeated Sony’s corporate message from the financial report that one of the strategies Sony is looking at is to put more priority in gaining profits than seeking a quantity increase.
“In the U.S., we continue to try to differentiate our TV lineup with our technological prowess such as 3D capability and Sony Internet TV powered by Google TV, so that we can bring value-added products to the consumer,” he said. “We continue to be determined and focus on what consumers want, and what we see is that they are interested in connected devices, services and apps so we are driving hard our connect TV and 3D technology where it matters” (personal content and gaming).
Fasulo said Sony will continue to ride on its strength — quality.
“Sony has been named the Harris Poll 2011 EquiTrend Consumer Electronics Brand of the Year — the top-ranked brand in its category on Brand Equity, which is comprised of quality, consumer’s interest in purchasing, and their familiarity with the brand,” he pointed out.
For CEDIA dealers in particular, Fasulo said Sony will demonstrate how it continues to evolve its SXRD front-projector technology for the home, and will push and evolve its Internet TV powered by Google TV, but the company’s strategy is to develop and market technologies with the end user in mind, not necessarily retail distribution channels.
“We are looking at our offerings from the consumer perspective, how they shop and what their needs are,” Fasulo said. “Not all channels are equal, not all brands are equal. Sony is a premium brand and we are known for our quality products. Our channel strategy is reflected in our investments with those premium retailers.”
Fasulo continued, “Sony more than any other brand is committed to this channel through its actions in products. We have a strong premium line of products, but we need to continue to evolve in order to make it easier to do business with Sony. In the end, Sony and this channel have the consumer at heart.
“We have products that fit this channel perfectly, and we have a huge opportunity in front of us to build solutions and ecosystems with not just connected devices but services as well. Working together, we can bring this concept to life and no other channel can,” Fasulo added.
He said Sony’s strategy was unfazed by the volatility in the high-end market that has forced the recent closures of more dealers and high-end video display resources (NuVision).
“Sony is an innovation company, using technology to build products,” he said. “We are not going to compromise quality. As such, Sony is committed to developing premium quality products for the specialty channel. That channel provides the experience that their customers are seeking.”
He continued: “In the end, Sony and this channel have the consumer at heart. We have products that fit this channel perfectly, and we have a huge opportunity in front of us to build solutions and ecosystems with not just connected devices but services as well. Working together, we can bring this concept to life and no other channel can.”
As for the evolution of 3D display technologies in the high-end market, Fasulo said, “Our latest SXRD home front projectors are one step in the right direction. With multiple HDMI inputs and faster refresh rates, these new products deliver crisper, brighter images at a fraction of the price of the last generation.
“That consumer-friendly pricing coupled with new content sources, be it packaged, streaming or broadcast media, gaming or personal content will help to make 3D more of a must have than a nice to have feature,” he added.
To help change any misperceptions that Sony is less than fully committed to the video display category, Fasulo said the company will launch new promotional campaigns over the second half of the year. These include a partnership with ESPN and the X Factor to execute multi-platform advertising and marketing campaigns leveraging sports and entertainment to promote its products.
“We continue to stay on the bleeding edge of innovation, especially when it comes to the custom install channel,” Fasulo assured dealers. “This year at CEDIA we’ll be debuting several products as part of our Elevated Standard line as well as unique innovations that no other company can currently bring to market.
“Dealers will certainly have a lot to share with their customers when they see how Sony is taking a step beyond the status quo.”