Sony defends products, brings out stars to emphasize media holdings

The consumer electronics company also announced two new Xperia smartphones as well high-definition Internet-powered TVs.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer defended the quality of Sony's products at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday, and said his company would leverage its broad music and video holdings to bolster its electronics.

"Our latest products are receiving rave reviews across the board," he said at the company's opening press conference at the show.

Sony faces over a billion dollars in losses this financial year while its main product lines have struggled to keep up with rivals like Apple and Samsung. The company's new flagship game console, the PlayStation Vita, has faced questions over its high pricing and ability to maintain high sales after an initial surge from its launch last month in Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The Vita sold 500,000 units as of Jan. 5, according to Kazuo Hirai, head of the company's massive consumer products division. The device goes on sale in the U.S. and Europe in February.

The company announced two new smartphones in its Xperia line, both equipped with 12MB cameras, plus a smattering of new gadgets including Internet-enabled high definition TVs and a new digital watch that can sync with Android devices.

But a main focus in Monday's presentation was its content platforms, including the expansion of its video and music streaming services, as well as a new service to launch in spring that will enable photo sharing between its various devices.

"New devices are not the end goal. It's the combinations of devices, services and content," said Hirai.

Media reports in Japan have said Stringer will soon be replaced by Hirai, who is widely seen as next in line to run the company, though Sony has denied any such decision has been reached.

Sony emphasized its media holdings by bringing actor Will Smith on stage to promote the third Men In Black movie, as well as pop star Kelly Clarkson.

It reaffirmed its commitment to its struggling TV business, a major cause of its financial woes, and said it would launch the world's first high-definition set powered by Google's TV platform this year.

Stringer also said Sony would not waver in its support of 3D, which has so far failed to catch on with mainstream consumers. He also said the company would show several super high-definition televisions, including one with a new technology it is calling Crystal LED.

"We hope you'll tell your friends, 'I've seen the future, and it's a Sony,'" he said.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
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