Facing a diminished press corps at a scaled down line show called "The Sony Open House" in Vegas Monday night, Consumer Sales president Jay Vandenbree didn’t pull any rah-rah happy talk about new product specs. He went straight to what was on everyone’s mind: selling tech during a recession.
"An unusual year coming forward with consumer confidence down very, very low," said Vandenbree. "It’s very important for our dealers to get back to basics with them, to make sure they are adding value beyond the product and instill that confidence back.
Sony execs are hoping that the American consumers’ long relationship with the Sony brand will make the company’s most recent offerings, including BRAVIA flatpanels, Blu-ray Disc players, cameras, printers and home theater components, feel like a good investment, should consumers decide to open their pocketbooks even a little again later in 2009.
Piggy-backing on the eve of the PMA show, Sony’s biggest announcement at the Open House, held in ballrooms at the Paris hotel, was the introduction of a new ultra-zoom Cyber-shot camera, the DSC-HX1. Due out in April "for about $500," this new 9-megapixel, 20x zoom camera boasts the ability to capture 1080p high definition video in movie mode. Product reps were showing off its 10 frames-per-second burst and "sweep panorama" modes as well.
Sony introduced many of its latest BRAVIA series flatpanels, due out this summer, in early-’09 at CES. The 52, 46, and 40-inch HD LCDs are using a Yahoo engine to provide internet widgets on-screen, letting viewers access web-services like their flickr accounts using their TV remote control as a virtual mouse.
New to Sony’s Blu-ray player lineup is the BDP-S560, availble this summer for $350, the first Sony Blu-ray player with built-in Wi-Fi. Once it’s plugged in, the player will automatically search a home for its wireless router and sync up, even without having to enter complicated security access codes. Giving a Bu-ray player internet access enables a little-known yet but interesting new service, BD-Live. Now, when consumers put in a Blu-ray disc, their player can access the producing movie company’s server and download extra content like sequels or related music. Some BD-Live applications let people chat online with each other about the movie or even re-edit the movie themselves (a sort of "consumer’s cut" instead of the director’s cut).
Attaching a steady steam of latest-tech apps to almost all of the products shown at the Open House in Vegas, Sony aims to at least keep tempting reluctant spenders this spring and summer.
"There’s real light at the end of the tunnel for our industry," said Vandenbree, "and we want to build their confidence in a brand they trust."