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Sony CEO sees crisis as temporary 'challenge'

Posted: 12 Jan 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CE industry  consumers electronics  HD-DVD  Blu-ray 

Sony Corp. CEO Howard Stringer cheerfully depicted the current worldwide economic crisis as a temporary "challenge" that will eventually succumb to—among other forces—the "innovative" power of the CE industry.

As comparable challenges, Stringer cited Sony's recent victory in the format battle between its high-definition DVD platform, called Blu-Ray, and a platform called HD-DVD. He also—somewhat unfortunately—compared the promised economic turnaround to the commercial success of HDTV, a process that actually unfolded over a period of more than 20 years.

Having thus addressed the economy, Stringer transformed his keynote address into a keynote cavalcade of Sony products and celebrity cameos.

Among the stars with whom Stringer shared the stage before an eager—although depleted—CES audience at the Sands/Venetian Convention Centre were actor Tom Hanks, TV physician Dr. Mehmet Oz, baseball hall of famer Reggie Jackson, Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and a 3D 50-foot cartoon woman named Susan, star of an upcoming Disney/Pixar film called "Monsters vs. Aliens."

'Lucky seven'
Stringer ran the gamut of Sony products from a new Wi-Fi Cyber-Shot camera, advanced OLED e-reader technologies and new PlayStation applications to digital cinema advancements, bendable video screens and a clock-radio that relentlessly wakes its owner in the morning to his or her favourite music and the latest news, weather, sports and Dow Jones results.

In addressing the overall concerns of his industry in what he admitted are hard times, Stringer offered a "lucky seven" series of policies that consumer electronics companies "must have" in the coming years.

He said that the industry must first embrace the fact that the consumer electronics IT industry and the entertainment industry have effectively joined forces and must continue to "interact seamlessly."

He said, second, that CE has to become more and more a "service-enhanced" industry, "or we risk obsolescence."

Third, he said, products "must be multi-functional," so that consumers can manage them across different environments.

Fourth, to make this possible, said Stringer, companies must support open technologies. "Consumers expect choices," he said. "They expect their device to work with any device."

Fifth, said Stringer, the industry should advance the new era of shared experiences on the Internet via numerous devices.

Sixth, companies must create new value streams towards the goal of "an overall better user experience." He cited Blu-Ray and HDTV as examples of this aspiration.

Finally, echoing CEA President Gary Shapiro's opening remarks, Stringer said the consumer electronics industry has to "go green."

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