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Sony Bullish On Blu-ray Sales, Other Categories

New York — Sony expects sales of Blu-ray players to expand by six to seven times in calendar year 2007 compared to last year.

Randy Waynick, senior VP of home products division, said that last year the chain sold from 100,000 to 125,000 Blu-ray set-top players, not including PlayStation3 or Vaio drives.

“We see sales expanding at six to seven times that. [Blu-ray] only had a limited number of units available by the end of last year.”

And in software Waynick said Blu-ray software is selling “three to one over HD-DVD.”

Even though Toshiba has gained sales with a rebate, bringing its entry-level HD DVD deck down to $299, Waynick said, “We feel the $499 [BDP-S300] Blu-ray player will be competitive and a great value.”

During the Sony Executive Roundtable here Wednesday, both Waynick and Stan Glasgow, president of Sony Electronics were bullish on the company’s recent performance and future.

Glasgow reported a 7 percent sales increase in the completed fiscal year ended March 31 in the United States for Sony Electronics. “We are No. 1 in 19 categories and had an 18 percent share in the U.S. Or put it this way — 18 cents of every dollar spent in CE in the U.S. is spent on Sony products.”

He also said that in digital imaging Sony held the No. 1 spot for the first time in more than the year and that Sony HD camcorders and “less expensive YouTube-type camcorders that are built to download” are popular.

Glasgow said the Vaio computer line was “very profitable for PC standards. We have completely embraced Blu-ray and HD with Vaio, introducing recently a $2,000 notebook.”

Waynick reported that Sony was “No. 1 in TV overall, No. 1 in units and dollars in LCD.” In summarizing the competitive battle between brands and HDTV formats, he expects it to “transfer over” to the second half.

Waynick predicted that screen sizes will get bigger and that consumers will want “more personalization” illustrated by bezels that change on HDTVs. “We are doing this for the first time. We believe that it has to be more than just black. HDTVs are now a show piece in the home. Bravia is about technology and design.”

Speaking of the Bravia brand, he noted, “You will see more and more ‘Bravia-ization’ of our brand. See it on more displays all across our line to emphasize the design, performance and quality of Sony.”

And there were plenty of questions about the Sony Internet Video Link system that debuts in July and can stream content toa Bravia TV from the Web without a computer. While there was no further new on more content for Video Link, Waynick said that “content is king” and that this is “the beginning of a whole new definition of TV.”

Glasgow noted, “We wanted to keep it simple and that’s the approach we took with Video Link. A program may freeze on a PC, but it is not acceptable on a TV.” And he added, “We don’t expect all of Bravia users to get Video Link but a certain percentage of early adopters will. This is the beginning of IPTV.”