Sony sees profit forecast increase by $430 million, no thanks to components division

sony_hq_weybridge_3For the second straight year, operating profit at Sony will top $2 billion, marking the longest streak for the company since 2001. Diana Lodderhose from Deadline:

 Just a week before it is due to reveal its annual results, Japan’s Sony Corp. has issued a revised forecast for the financial year to March 2017, expecting net profits of $668M and operating profits of $2.6B. That marks a near tripling of its previous net estimate, up $430M, and a 18.8% hike in operating profits. 

The one weak division? Components.

U.S. full-frame camera market growing only because of Sony

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Here’s a nice cherry on top of all the full-frame news this week which includes the arrival of the a9 (pictured above), the newest mirrorless powerhouse from Sony that was announced on the heels of them overtaking Nikon in the US. If it weren’t for Sony and their full-frame camera efforts, the US market would have detracted by 2% as you can see from the graph below.

Sony a9 is a 4K mirrorless full-frame camera with touchscreen

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With little fanfare prior, Sony has unveiled the a9, their latest, and easily greatest, full-frame camera. Now before I get too far, a word of caution: for those interested in only increased megapixel count, you’ll walk away disappointed. Where the current a7R II offers a whopping 42.4-megapixels, the a9 instead fires every shot at 24.2-megapixels but that hardly tells the tale of this powerful camera.

Compared to its predecessors, the Sony a9 is 20% faster and is capable of shooting up to 241 RAW, full-frame images at 20 fps. Seriously let that set in for a minute. If that’s not enough, how about that it’s the first full-frame stacked CMOS sensor, which is why it’s able to provide the speeds it does? It’s also why Sony had to notch down the megapixel count. With an ultra-dense 693-point focal plane phase detection autofocus that can do 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second, the a9 is a camera that’s going to take crisp photos no matter the condition.

Xbox head Phil Spencer talks trading notes on VR with PlayStation team

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Microsoft’s Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, is someone I continue to have great respect for. Listening to him talk, it’s clear that he has the utmost passion for his company and the greater gaming industry that they operate in. On many occasions, Spencer has gone on record for his admiration, if not acceptance, of milestones achieved by PlayStation. In previous console generation cycles, mudslinging between competitors was an all too familiar affair that sadly still runs deep among users of both platforms.

When speaking to Gamasutra about the current status of VR and Xbox’s approach to it, Spencer said:

 The Sony guys have been great. they’ve had our teams down, we’ve had them up to look at HoloLens and stuff that’s been going on. Obviously Valve’s about a stone’s throw from here. So the VR community itself is actually very collaborative because I think everybody realizes how early we are in the evolution of what this thing is about. 

PS4 doubles storage to 1TB while keeping $299 price

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Good news for those looking to purchase a PS4 soon. Coming later this month, PS4 will ship with a standard 1TB drive versus the current 500GB while keeping its $299 price point. Announced in September, known as PS4 Slim, the new model provides a smaller footprint than its predecessor with a slightly redesigned DualShock 4 controller which I must say feels a lot better.

Sony IMX390 camera sensor developed for self-driving cars

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Most cars capable of any form of autonomous driving or even more limited self-driving capabilities currently utilize on-the-market camera sensors which more often than not are designed for mobile devices. Though adequate, the majority of these sensors have been optimized for efficiency and small form factor, a luxury that a car does not need to adhere to.

One of the biggest obstacles that faces car manufacturers is to incorporate a sensor that’s capable of seeing in the daytime, nighttime, and those pesky in-between hours. Add on top of that transitioning in and out of a tunnel and the large contrasts that take place between bright lights at night on dim streets and you’ll begin to see the challenges that exist for a camera sensor.

Sony passes Nikon for the number 2 position in the U.S.

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Here’s an interesting followup to the Sony a99 II vs. Canon EOS 5D piece. In it, I wrote:

 One of the biggest challenges Sony will always face is getting people who’ve been shooting for years, if not decades, with a Canon or Nikon to convert. It seems fairly conclusive now that Sony cameras have reached a point where they outpace their peers, putting the technological argument to an end.

Instead where Sony needs to focus on is mindshare, which I believe is a two tier approach. 

And slowly but surely, it looks like Sony is making inroads towards that goal.

 Sony has just passed Nikon to become the #2 company in the United States for full-frame interchangeable lens camera sales. 

PlayStation Vue partners with ESL to launch esportsTV

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A quick Friday story for you. PlayStation Vue, the streaming TV service from Sony, is expanding its channel lineup by creating a new and unique channel that will be exclusive to the service. Jacob Wolf writes this for ESPN Esports:

Sony bets big on E Ink, sets up new joint venture

Sony_Digital_Paper_DPT_RP1_2On the heels of unveiling the latest Digital Paper, a solution for professional who want to rid themselves of paper, Sony is also announcing a new joint venture. Via Yahoo! Finance:

 Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Sony Corporation SNE recently announced a joint venture (“JV”) with leading papermaking company E Ink Holdings (E Ink). Officially registered in Taiwan, this JV will focus on designing, manufacturing, selling, distributing and licensing products that use electronic paper displays.

Operations are expected to commence post regulatory approvals. The JV will integrate E Ink’s development and manufacturing technology with Sony’s product development and marketing expertise to create a new ePaper market. This will feature innovative electronic paper display products and systems. 

Interview with team behind Xperia Touch

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I haven’t been shy about my feelings towards the Xperia Touch, a short throw projector that can turn any surface into an Android touch-based device. Highly cool in video and concept form, but I’m not sure what the real world use of it would be, especially at its $1,500 price tag.

So what went into making the Xperia Touch? Arinobu Ueda (left) and Yuichiro Saito (right) are the lead designer and engineer on the project and did a short interview and shared their thoughts on the product.

The 13-inch Sony Digital Paper RP1 is a Sci-Fi product for professionals

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First seen all the way back in 2014, the Sony Digital Paper is a 13.3-inch E ink reader that’s targeted at professionals like lawyers, university researchers, and whoever else that finds their work life buried in paper. The vision for Sony since the DPT-S1 was unveiled almost four years ago has been to replace paper with a more elegant (and for you and I, Sci-Fi) solution.

The DPT-RP1 is now a culmination of that idea, taking what was a fully working product a few years ago and improving upon it. So what’s changed with the Sony Digital Paper compared to its predecessor? A lot, it seems.

Does the Sony Xperia XZ Premium look dated already?

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I’m not sure I fully buy into this premise yet, but I see where Thomas Ricker from The Verge is going with this.

 How’s it possible that Sony’s lovely $700 Xperia XZs, a phone that’s going on sale today, already looks dated? That’s the question I was asking myself yesterday while staring at the image above. Then it dawned on me: the sensor-laden forehead and chubby chin of the XZs already looks retro.

In April of 2017 we’ve seen very modern edge-to-edge displays on the Galaxy S8, LG’s G6, and even on the teaser pic for the Essential phone from Andy Rubin’s new venture. And those all came after Xiaomi released the Mi Mix back in October. Here, have a look at these beauties and try not to swoon: 

And what is it that they have in common? A bezel-free phone.

Sony files for patent infringement claims against Arris

 

Arris_Set_Top_BoxYou know what’s popular these days? Patent lawsuits. Not to be left out of the fun, Sony is filing their own complaints against Arris, the maker of the widely used cable modems.

 The U.S. International Trade Commission said on Wednesday it has launched a patent infringement investigation of television set-top boxes and other components that Arris International supplies to Comcast Corp and DirecTV for their Xfinity and Genie customers. 

UK pricing for Sony A1E OLED revealed

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It’s almost been a month since Sony announced the official US pricing for their dazzling 4K HDR OLED TVs which were unveiled at CES 2017. Known as the A1E, Sony has now committed itself to the OLED consumer space with US and European models set to launch sometime this month. In fact, those in the UK can pre-order the 55- and 65-inch variants starting today. As expected, pricing isn’t cheap for the 4K TV with the two sizes coming in at:

Sony CEO admits defeat in mobile

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Before I dive into this topic, we should get a few facts out of the way.

  • Sony makes premium smartphones
  • Those smartphones tend to be out of the reach for a majority of Android owners who typically spend no more than $200 on a phone
  • Sony was late to the smartphone game
  • Sony lacks retail and carrier partners
  • Sony has also never been able to mount a marketing and go to market strategy for their mobile devices
  • Sony accounts for around 1% of the mobile industry profits
  • Sony ships less phones in a year, despite having more models available than Apple does in a quarter (Samsung is not a good example as their sales figures include very low-end handsets as well, a market that both Apple and Sony don’t operate in)

Those facts should serve as a backdrop to the following news when Sony CEO Kaz Hirai spoke with AFR: