Revealed: Sony's future plans for PS3, PSP and TV
26th Jun 2008 | 11:31
"We're more innovative than Apple" claims Sony boss
"This is not your father's Sony", sums up what Howard Stringer has done at Sony since taking over the reins in 2005.
The Wales-born CEO was underlining the challenge that the company now faces in the digital age, as he led the Japanese giant's corporate strategy briefing in Tokyo today.
In the absence of any attention-grabbing new hardware announcements, most headlines are likely to go to Sony's pledge to increase revenues in the PC, Blu-ray-related and components businesses.
Stringer said that Sony would build these into "trillion-yen businesses" by FY2010, putting them alongside the core business units of TVs, digital imaging, gaming and mobile phones. One trillion yen is currently worth around £4.7 billion.
Although gaming is a traditional Sony strength, the division is mired in red ink after the costly development and launch of the PlayStation 3. Addressing that, the CEO promised to bring it to profit by March next year.
Stringer also outlined plans to invest close to £9 billion in new technology in a concerted drive to become the world leader in LCD televisions within three years. Beyond that, the assembled execs wouldn't be drawn on precise numbers or revenue targets.
Although he didn't address recent speculation about the possibility of a PSP phone or the stability of the Sony Ericsson joint venture that produces mobile phones, Stringer did emphasise that such handsets would continue to be sold and that "Sony music and pictures content [would be] embedded in all key Sony Ericsson product lines."
As expected, there was no discussion on life after Blu-ray – the so-called 'death of disk'. However, a hint of how quickly online distribution will move centre-stage came in the news that Sony Pictures' summer blockbuster, Hancock, will be made available exclusively to all internet-connect Bravia televisions in the US before its DVD release.
Movie download service
The movie theme resurfaced in a presentation from Kaz Hirai, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment, with the news that the long-anticipated film download service would finally reach the online PlayStation Network this year.
Hirai confirmed that US users would get first crack at PS3 movie downloads in late summer, with Europe and Japan to follow by year's end. He added that full details would be announced at E3 in LA next month and that both standard- and high-definition titles would be available.
Warming to the theme, Hirai added, "Please expect more from our evolving PlayStation business." That evolution will also include the much-delayed PlayStation Home virtual world, which Hirai demonstrated, along with new dynamic in-game advertisements that change according to the context.
The littlest PlayStation also featured prominently, with the PSP being positioned as an interactive extension of the PS3 console, as well as a tool for accessing the PlayStation Store for game downloads and, possibly, feature films at some undisclosed point.
Hirai's presentation concluded with something of a surprise in a new network service called Life With PlayStation. The rough demo showed a view of the Earth from space, which rotated to reveal location-related news items, reminiscent of similar services on Nintendo's Wii.
Innovator and creator
Returning to the podium to sum up, Stringer emphasised his firm's creative skills and took aim at a company many see as having inherited the Sony mantle as innovator supreme.
"We have products to get excited about [including] OLED TVs, Rolly, CyberShot smile detection and the new Bravias.
"Apple is a boutique company, but we're a large conglomerate. We recently came out number one in a poll by Incite on innovative companies, just ahead of Apple. I rest my case."
Whether or not that's overstating the case, Stringer's confidence in the once-troubled company is almost tangible, leaving little room for doubt that Sony is back and that it means business.