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A New Year Indeed, And Maybe A Good One

The late Andy Rooney once promoted the idea that the calendar should be changed and that the beginning of September should be start of the new year worldwide, because everyone seems to get back from summer vacation and go back to work and school.

For some, September is the beginning of a new year. Last Wednesday was Rosh Hashanah, the day Jews worldwide celebrate as the beginning of their new year.

Technology companies of all stripes took that notion to heart last week with an explosion of deals and product introductions last week that shook everyone out of their summer doldrums.

I knew it was going to be an eventful week when I got a call from a retailer on Labor Day weekend informing me that Sony called to say its 4K server became operational. I planned to attend the Sony New York press event last Wednesday, but the news was a surprise.

At Sony’s event at Jazz at Lincoln Center in the scenic Allen Room, what I saw was a company leveraging its content, consumer and pro market resources, resulting in a revival of cutting-edge designs and features that made it famous. The proof is in the sellthrough, but Sony seems to have done its homework.

Back on Labor Day, news broke that Microsoft cut a deal with Nokia to buy its cellular-handset business and license its patents for $7.16 billion, and if some are correct, maybe even a new CEO. Stephen Elop, who stepped aside as Nokia president/CEO, became Microsoft’s devices and services executive VP.

Who knows about Elop, but I do agree with pundits who said that Microsoft is “doubling down” on a high-stakes bet that Nokia can help it crack the mobile market.

Not to be outdone, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Gear smart watch at IFA — which one observer said “out-Apples Apple” and could help create a new competitive battle between those two, Sony, Microsoft and myriad other players.

Did I mention that Apple is having a press conference on Sept. 10? As usual, Apple announced its event and the educated guesses began about cheaper, more colorful versions of iPhone, and maybe an update to Apple TV. We’ll see on Tuesday.

Finally Panasonic revealed its 4K market plans, unveiling a 65-inch TV that uses a HDMI 2.0 connection for much faster image processing, as well as showing its 20-inch 4K tablet at IFA.

In fact, the promotional activity around Ultra HD or 4K — whichever name you like — will only intensify as we work our way towards the fourth quarter and the holiday sales season as CE manufacturers, and retailers, look for more volume for this new display category without sacrificing profits too much.

And I didn’t even mention the high-resolution audio push by CEA and top audio suppliers.

All of these positive, frenzied activities show that many key industry players are investing in new technologies and are expecting growth, which is good news for everyone.

So whether you believe in Rooney’s theory, are Jewish, or — like me — see good omens in all of these introductions and promotional activities, I think we’re in for a good new year.