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Sony Also Talk Tech At Media Roundtable

Sony Electronics president Stan Glasgow and consumer sales president Jay Vandenbree also spoke about products and technology, during their media roundtable at the Sony Building, here.

Blu-ray: Glasgow commented, “Has Blu-ray met [sales] expectations? No. Has the economy hurt it? Yes, but there will be growth in Blu-ray this holiday season.”

Glasgow said Sony’s low-end price for a Blu-ray deck will be $299, “and it might be less in promotional bundling of HD products at retail.” He said that there will be some low price points at retail from some suppliers, but “our pricing will remain stable.”

About those Blu-ray bundles Glasgow said they have sold well, “but not up to our [original] expectations.” Yet Vandenbree noted that consumers get with the bundles “an entertainment source and HDTV in the same bundle … that solves [consumer] questions of ‘What do I want to do?’ “

The Sony execs were questioned about broadband downloads competing against Blu-ray. Glasgow doesn’t think “it will be packaged goods or all downloads. Eventually it will have an effect on Blu-ray. I think people like owning certain types of things. I think Blu-ray will coexist with downloading.” He doesn’t see downloads affecting Blu-ray for several years because broadband networks still have to be developed, and there are also digital rights management issues that must be dealt with.

Camcorders and digital cameras: Vandenbree volunteered an interesting observation about camcorder sales and the economy. “As an indicator of [the CE] business, nothing is more discretionary than camcorders. Sales are driven by the intent to create software” during family vacations, holidays or special events. Sony spotted a lower sales trend early in the year, which indicated to them a softer 2008 than expected for the economy and CE.

Glasgow said the camcorder category is also mixed because HD camcorders and very low-end units have done well, but the middle of the market, usually a family purchase, has been hurt.

And while digital SLRs have seen growth, the point-and-shoot cameras have hit “a saturation point,” Glasgow said. “We have to find ways of being innovative in that category to grow the business. Maybe wireless downloads to PC and TV, and other features.”

OLED: “We are working very hard to get to the next generation of screen sizes. It is an energy-saving product … with strong performance,” Glasgow said. “We have a massive R&D effort at Sony for OLED. It is easy to make small but not as easy to make big. We discuss OLED every week and has it a focus with Sony, and other manufacturers too.” Sony’s emphasis with OLED is “TV screens, not cellphone displays or other types of displays.”

Bravia Video Link: The acceptance of the Sony Internet device for its Bravia HDTVs was “slow starting but we have gotten traction last three to six months,” Glasgow said. The technology has proven it makes “it easier for consumer to experience Internet content on TVs. It will be more and more part of TV watching in the future.”

Glasgow said the goal for Bravia Internet Video Link is to add more content not just from Sony and “integrate it into future Sony TVs.” No details were provided but the media at the meeting was told there would be more news at International CES in January.