Sony’s CES 2002 Overview

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Sony Electronics’ President and COO Fujio Nishida highlighted the company’s strong sales performance in the last two months of the year, and pointed to key network product introductions that start to deliver on the company’s vision of a “Ubiquitous Value Network.”

Nishida pointed out that in November Sony achieved record sales for consumer products in the U.S., and that this strong growth trend continued in December. The successful holiday season included a wide variety of consumer electronics product categories. Sony held the number one market share in big screen televisions, digital cameras, personal audio, home audio and DVD-video categories, as well as very strong retail positions with both its desktop and notebook PCs.

Note: This year’s CES focused more towards Networked products and mobile electronics. “The adoption of broadband connectivity is starting to provide people with the means to enjoy new entertainment options,” Nishida said. “At Sony, we are creating new ways for consumers to interact by designing hardware that takes digital content, such as home movies or on-line gaming, and provides a heightened entertainment experience. Increasingly, our products are being conceived to realize these new experiences between consumers, services, products and content.”

During a press conference held in Las Vegas on the eve of the annual Consumer Electronics Show, Nishida and his colleagues demonstrated the seamless integration of digital content in three strategic areas.

Net MD Walkman Player

Before introducing a demonstration of the new Net MD™ Walkman® player, Nishida cited NPD Intellect data reporting that there were more MiniDisc recorders with PC-Link sold last year than any other MP3 music device. Looking to the future, he predicted that Sony’s new line of Net MD Walkman products will spur additional sales of this increasingly popular music recording format.

Sony’s new Net MD Walkman player records more than five hours of music on a single 80-minute MiniDisc at 32 times transfer speed in LP4 mode. Net MD Walkman players operate for more than 50 hours on a single `AA’ type battery. Products in the line will be available in April and are expected to retail from about $180 to $350.

Camcorder Advances

The demonstrations advanced to digital imaging and diminutive camcorders when Nishida announced that Sony will expand its line of Handycam® camcorders to include the new MICROMV™ model.

The first of two camcorder demonstrations featured what is now the world’s smallest and lightest digital camcorder at a mere 12 ounces. In addition to its tiny size, the new MICROMV Network Handycam camcorder offers CD-quality sound, 500 lines of horizontal resolution and a DVD-like thumbnail feature that allows users to access and retrieve different sections of tape with the touch of a button.

Using Bluetooth® wireless technology, one of the new MICROMV camcorders can even access the Internet without a PC(compatible ISP required). Additional applications will include browsing the web, as well as e-mailing and uploading still images and video clips. The wireless model is expected to sell for about $1700. Another model without Bluetooth technology will be offered for about $1300. Both models will be available in February.

In other camcorder news, Nishida and his team demonstrated the benefits of a new USB streaming feature that will be incorporated into a number of the 2002 camcorders.

USB streaming allows you to stream live and recorded video to the Internet with a PC, making it easy to share those special moments with family and friends around the world. Sony will incorporate this feature into all of its Digital8® camcorders and a Hi8 analog camcorder in 2002.

“This feature turns the camcorder into a webcam or a personal video conferencing system, ” Nishida said.

Innovations in Mobile Electronics

Sony also spotlighted two innovative mobile electronics introductions that illustrate how car stereo is growing beyond music enthusiasts to encompass a variety of AV/IT convergence products.

The first is a CD receiver featuring a 4.5-inch, 32,000-color TFT (Thin Film Transistor) LCD screen that vividly displays images stored on Memory Stick® media. The faceplate can scroll through picture after picture. It displays a variety of digital images including supplied screen savers and CD album jackets.

In addition to digital imaging capabilities, the head unit offers CD-R/RW and MP3 playback, and will also play music files stored on Memory Stick media. The MEX-5DI CD receiver will be available in April for about $1,000.

The second mobile innovation Sony presented here is a receiver that easily stores 165 hours of music from personal CD collections on one head unit at up to 8x speed. The unit will complete the recording process even if the car is turned off. Songs can be added or deleted and CDs can be played while recording. The MEX-HD1 CD receiver will also be available in April for about $1,500.

Nishida wrapped up the session by saying, “This is just the beginning. We have lots of other exciting products coming throughout the year.”

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Through out my years, Sony has been a passion of mine.

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