The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is nearly upon us and that means lots of last minute things to do in order to prepare the site for all the additional coverage. Previously, we asked what you’d like to see Sony present during the mega show and the response thus far has been great. In the past few years, Sony has used the show as a launching ground for many of their flagship products, including reinvigorating their mobile line with the launch of the Xperia S and Xperia ion which paved the way for the well-received Xperia Z. After the jump, I’ll share with you what I believe Sony needs to do to not only walk away from CES 2014 victorious but to win back more consumers and dig themselves further out of the hole that the company placed itself in the past decade.
4K. 4K. 4K.
Whether consumers are cord cutting or not, the living room will continue to be a big part of any consumer electronic companies portfolio. Be it if they have cable, satellite, or an AppleTV, the television and other related equipment like receivers will play a large role on our consumption of media. While 3D didn’t quite pan out, mostly due to the hurdle of glasses, 4K much like HD is the next evolution that only required the upgrading of equipment with little fanfare. Sure the road to 4K will be rocky, but so was the transition from SD to HD and in the end, it worked out. For the most part, Sony missed the transition to LCD and let competitors like Samsung, LG, and Panasonic leapfrog over them. With 4K, Sony needs to lead the charge. While CES 2013 was the introduction of 4K, I hope that this year, Sony focuses on more consumer oriented products. This means televisions that offer 4K in sizes and prices that consumers can afford. Sony first brought 4K to the market with the ultra-exclusive 84-inch 4K XBR and followed with a more affordable variations in 55- and 65-inch models that start in the $4,000 range (though they can be currently had for $3,000).
Now Sony needs to take this to the next level and begin offering the TV in a smaller and more aggressive manor that can help bring the price down to $2,000. Throw out the fancy internet connected gadgetry and forget the XBR engine. Get a good but basic (feature wise) television that consumers will be able to afford because frankly, they likely have a PlayStation or AppleTV or other similar device that can already do all the “connected” features. For those who want more, the XBR line will be available but Sony needs to be truly aggressive with 4K to ensure that, when consumers think about the next generation of television, Sony comes to mind.
Ditch Notebooks and Double Down on Mobile
I hate to say it but notebooks are dead. We may not want to admit it but there is a reason each year, PC sales continue to decline and it’s time for Sony to forget about this market. Quite frankly, when was the last time you saw somebody with a Sony notebook? Their market share, which is below 1%, tells the entire story. Instead, Sony needs to focus purely on mobile products which like 4K is the future of that market. Now I will counter my own words and say despite a decline in PC sales which Ultrabooks are a part of, Sony should continue to offer them despite low volumes. That at least is still a market that has some draw to it and is far more profitable than traditional notebooks which, thanks to the price war that the companies themselves started, helped drive prices down to the sub $500 level, which meant consumers were getting junk and PC makers received little to no profit.
More importantly though, Sony needs to really focus on mobile and offer more tablets which is where the growth is happening. Consumers are going more and more mobile every day and Sony needs to be a part of that growth. While the Xperia Tablet Z is a great flagship product, Sony needs to introduce a lower cost 10-inch tablet to draw in consumers to their brand while offering a 7-inch tablet to compete with Nexus 7 and iPad mini which further play into the mobile world that we live in. Equally, smaller tablets command a lower price which once again helps attract consumers.
PlayStation 4 Announcement
There is a time and place for PlayStation news and announcements and I don’t believe CES is that. However, I hope that during the show, Sony does update us with some encouraging news on PS4 sales and maybe has some light announcements in regards to accessories or upcoming firmware updates for the console. Otherwise, this is not the show to talk games.
Xperia Smartphones or Lack There Off
I truly hope that, come tomorrow, we learn of no new Xperia smartphones from Sony. Just recently, Sony announced the Xperia Z1 which was here to replace the Xperia Z which has yet to be out for an entire year. Furthermore, the Xperia Z never made it to most carriers so releasing the Xperia Z1, let alone an Xperia Z2 does little to solve this. If anything, Sony’s strategy of releasing two flagship phones a year causes confusion for consumers who are never entirely sure when a new device might come from Sony or if their carrier will even support it. Instead, I hope that Sony showcases its full array of smartphones (which it has plenty of) and instead either announces new carrier partnerships or continues to work behind the scenes to improve the company’s relationship with them. In the end, Sony could release a new flagship model once a month that’s the greatest device ever created and it won’t make a difference if most carriers don’t offer it or if they do, it’s unlocked at full price which means 23.5 people in the US will buy a Sony phone for $700.
Yes, I hope that one of the things Sony announces during CES is a new marketing campaign while also firing their entire marketing department or company. While I don’t enjoy anybody being jobless, Sony’s marketing strategy in the US this past decade has been for the most part pathetic at best and nonexistent at worst. Although there has been a bright spot here and there, either Sony has zero marketing presence or when they do, their advertisement does little to draw you into the product. I’ve said to many colleagues of mine that I believe Sony is the electronic industry’s best kept secret. The truth likely is that most consumers have no idea that Sony makes smartphones, tablets, and 4K televisions. While Samsung does everything it can to bombard you with their latest of “let’s make a product and see if it sticks” strategy, the only time you’re likely to see the Sony logo appear on your screen is during a product placement on a Sony Pictures film. Yes there is a lot Sony can do to clean up their electronics division, but alongside that goal, Sony needs to tell people that they make products and damn good ones.
In the end, the world is a changing at a high pace towards mobile and Sony needs to be part of that. While notebooks and traditional televisions still have a place for many companies, the low profitability means that Sony would be chasing the decade that has past instead of focusing on the decade that is to come. Instead, Sony needs to target the growing product segments and do everything in their power to be a relevant player in those fields or they will lose out to another generation of consumers.
Do you agree with my vision on how Sony needs to treat its product lines during CES 2014? Why or why not?