While a majority of us, including yours truly, consider Sony an electronics and entertainment company (lumping music, pictures, and PlayStation under that), the truth is that they’re a lot more. In fact, most mature companies like Sony and Apple have stakes in a lot of businesses that the general public might not be aware of. As an example, Apple more recently invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing. Sony for its part has always had a diverse portfolio which has ranged from being an ISP in Japan with Yahoo as a partner, to offering financial services and loans. Now, one of those investments is paying off in strides.
Mark Schilling writing for Variety:
Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai received a big raise to $4.9 million for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2016, according to a securities filing to Japanese authorities. Minus stock options but including performance-based pay, this amount is 2.5 times his previous year’s compensation and beats the previous company record of $4.6 million set by former Sony CEO Howard Stringer in March of 2010 — the first time Sony was compelled to disclose top executive pay.
Another reason why I love Samsung products – and by love, I of course mean never trust or use. Daniel Cooper for Engadget writes:
Samsung wants to be more than just a hardware company, which is why it’s strengthening its longstanding flirtation with the ad business. The Wall Street Journal claims that the manufacturer, struggling to turn a profit in TVs, will increase the number of tile ads that it displays in the menu bar of its smart TVs. These small squares are currently only available in the US, although the paper believes that Europe will be added to the program in the near future. In addition, older models will get the ads delivered to the home screen thanks to a future software update.
But it gets better.
Sony is already going to lose big business from the Kumamoto earthquakes which struck the company’s image sensor plant. The most notable of the losses has been Apple, which was relying on Sony to deliver dual-lens cameras to power their iPhone 7+ this fall. Now, you can add Nikon to the list of clients being affected by Sony’s production woes.
Some interesting news out of Sony today that the above headline doesn’t properly convey, due to size limitations. The better headline (which is directly from Sony) should read as:
Sony Announces a New Type 1/2.6 22.5 Megapixel Exmor RS, the Industry’s First Stacked CMOS Image Sensor with Built-in Hybrid Autofocus and 3-Axis Electronic Image Stabilization
So what’s all the hoopla about?
One of the biggest eyebrow raisers from the Sony Q4 FY15 earnings report was the huge drop in Devices – down ¥75.3 billion compared to a year ago. For those unaware, Devices comprises mostly of Sony’s semiconductor business which supplies companies such as Apple and Samsung with components like batteries and camera sensors. At that time, I had heard from:
a little birdie that Sony may have lost a major customer which could lend credence to the dramatic drop.
Now it’s looking like my initial sources were spot on.
Mona Lalwani writes for Engadget about a new partnership between Sony and AI startup Cogitai to “build intelligent systems that will learn from their own experiences in the world.” Dr. Satinder Singh, co-founder of Cogitai which Sony has now invested in:
We have a shared vision for where AI needs to go. The next wave will be ‘continual learning.’ It’s the idea that machine intelligence will continually grow as it interacts with the world.
So what is continual learning?
Future Lab, Sony’s US based R&D division which recently debuted a more realized concept N headphones that don’t need to go on your ear in the traditional sense to hear, is at it again with a projector that’s able to turn any ordinary tabletop into a computer out of Tony Stark’s lab. Nick Statt writing for The Verge:
The “Interactive Tabletop” concept uses depth sensors and motion tracking to know when objects are placed on the table and even bring storybooks to life.
Ever since a series of earthquakes in mid-April damaged Sony’s image sensor factory in Kumamoto, the company has been updating investors with the status of its factory which provides components for Apple’s iPhone. It seems that since their early May update, Sony has made significant progress towards fully restoring the factory.
as of May 9, 2016, testing operations, which are one of the back-end processes carried out on the upper layer of the building, have resumed and other back-end processes, such as assembly, are also expected to restart sequentially beginning May 17, 2016.
Sony has been named the worlds 76th most valuable company according to the yearly list by Forbes, which ranks the top 100 companies. Leading the list is once again Apple with a brand value of $154.1B and $233.7B revenue. For comparison, the Sony brand is valued at $7.6 billion with a $59.3B revenue. To put that in context, Apple made $6.056 billion in revenue from software and services (iTunes & iCloud) just last quarter.
Sony has been making a lot of long term strategic decisions lately, like helping Montclair State University build up their Communications and Media building which will be equipped with all Sony gear. Similar to Sony’s DMPC operation in Hollywood,
the Montclair State facility will be a training and educational resource, with cutting-edge 4K facilities available to students and production professionals in every aspect of the creative process. Sony will use the space to host business development events, conduct training and promote new technologies, establishing Montclair State University as a preferred environment for Sony’s introduction of new products, technologies and services relating to television, film, media and higher education.
Now Sony is placing another bet on education by utilizing the tech that powers bitcoin of all things. Jon Russell writes for TechCrunch:
Sony is one company looking to take advantage of the blockchain, technology that underpins cyptocurrency bitcoin, after the Japanese company announced plans to build a centralized platform for educational assessment and testing scores.
The Sony Global Education division of the company has developed technology that uses the blockchain to house educational data that can be securely shared with other services and third parties. Sony said it believes it could “realize an entirely new infrastructure system” with this technology, which it described as having the potential to be a central system for candidates and their test results, much like a universal education ID or a more official version of resume sites like LinkedIn.
For example, after taking an examination to demonstrate his or her academic proficiency level, an individual could direct the testing organization to share the test results with one or more third-party evaluating organizations. This would be a first if implemented on a system-wide basis.
More after the jump.
Think of the gear you can’t live without: The smartphone you constantly check. The camera that goes with you on every vacation. The TV that serves as a portal to binge-watching and -gaming. Each owes its influence to one model that changed the course of technology for good.
This list couldn’t have come at a better time as Sony celebrated its 70th birthday on Saturday and what a 70 years it’s been. I don’t say this lightly when I say Sony is the closest any company has come to matching and perhaps even exceeding the influence that Apple has had on our lives. While the last two decades might be dominated mostly by Apple, Sony’s influence throughout the years cannot be ignored.
From changing how we watch TV with the Trinitron to how we entertain ourselves with Walkman and PlayStation – Sony has forever altered our lives with their rich products. Even today Sony is challenging the notion of how we view photography by being a champion of E-mount cameras and taking on once dominant competitors Nikon and Canon.
Some of these, like Sony’s Walkman, were the first of their kind. Others, such as the iPod, propelled an existing idea into the mainstream. Some were unsuccessful commercially, but influential nonetheless. And a few represent exciting but unproven new concepts (looking at you, Oculus Rift).
After the jump, the four Sony products that made the 50 most influential gadgets of all time list.
Sony has officially turned 70 years young today, a milestone seldom reached by tech companies. Founded by Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka on May 7th, 1946, the company was originally called ‘Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo.’ Seeing how the name would be hard to pronounce for Western countries, a key area to expand to if Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo were to become a global brand, co-founder Akio Morita would rename the company to Sony, as a mix of two words.
These were the Latin word ‘Sonus’ which is the root of sonic and sound, and ‘Sonny’ which was a common American term in the 50’s for a boy.
Come 1958, Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo would change to Sony. Despite their downs, Sony has had a long history of creating industry and in fact culturally changing products like the Trinitron televisions, Walkman, and PlayStation to name a few. Throughout that time, Sony has become synonymous with quality hardware and was in fact an inspiration to the late Apple founder, Steve Jobs. That’s why it may surprise you to learn that the first product out of then Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo was not in fact electronic or at least not in the way we would think about electronics today. Instead, it was a rice cooker.
Masaru Ibuka’s (later Sony co-founder) first step into the world of consumer electronics was an electronic rice cooker. You may be wondering why you’ve never seen this in the market. Unfortunately that’s because the device consistently either undercooked or overcooked rice. It seems the ability to cook rice was an important factor in a rice cooker and so the product failed to be a commercial success…
Perhaps not for their 70th but when Sony celebrates their 100th anniversary, how wonderful would it be for them to release a limited run rice cooker? I know I’d buy it. With no shortage of Sony products in my household, I’d instead love to hear from you and see what some of your Sony products of the past have been and what you most look forward to from the company in the coming years.
I’ve often argued that one of the biggest challenges facing Sony is their lack of advertisement and that they make some fantastic hardware, only to forget to tell others that it exists. The launch of the upcoming Xperia X family, which consists of the Xperia X, XA, and XA Performance, will be a pinnacle moment for the company. Not only is the new lineup here to replace the Z5 family, but it’s also the first time Sony’s had a chance to build a new phone from the ground up in some time. Gone are any ties to a predecessor as engineers were allowed to craft something from scratch and hopefully set the foundation for Sony Mobile going forward.
Luckily for us, Sony has heard the cry and put together an ad for the Xperia XA. Unlike other videos we’ve posted which are meant to boast a device’s technical prowess, this 30 second spot is a full on ad – but one that frankly makes me yearn for the good old days when Sony didn’t make ads for their devices. I simply cannot tell you how terrible and dry this ad is. It’s as if everybody got together in a board room, somebody asked “what makes people feel touchy wutchy” and somebody yelled out “a engagement!” because they were just engaged, and the meeting was adjourned. From there, the ad team put together the most empty shelled take on engagements while shoving a product in there to sell. What was ultimately created was the ad you’ll soon see.
I’m reminded of a scene from the upcoming Ghostbusters trailer (which is from Sony Pictures) where Leslie Jones is forced to slap a ghost out of Melissa McCarthy, yelling “the power of pain compels you.” It’s just that Sony is Melissa and I’m Leslie.
I cannot tell you by how much this ad misses the mark by feeling emotionless, clunky, and dry. Oh yea, and there is something about a phone in it too. The Sony Xperia XA ad is after the jump.
One of the most delightful things about attending CES is that Sony has the ability to show off sporting events like the World Cup and Olympics in glorious, uncompressed 4K. 4K over the airwaves is already next to non-existent and when you can get it, be it from satellite or streaming services, chances are that it’s gone through multiple layers of compression before it ever hits your screen. But when you’re at CES, Sony can just bring you that 4K content in the most pure way possible and boy does it dazzle. Not so coincidentally, all that footage is captured on various professional Sony cameras and other related production equipment and the 2016 Olympic games in Rio won’t be any different.
NBC Olympics crews will use more than 100 Sony cameras to capture footage at event venues and record athlete arrivals, interviews, press conferences and other assignments that require studio and portable recording and capture. NBC Olympics will also use Sony’s HDC-4300 4K high frame rate camera system for HD replays and the PWS-4500 XAVC server to capture and store high speed HD content from the HDC-4300.
Hopefully one day soon we’ll have access to all the beautiful footage that’s captured via these Sony cameras because a sporting event in beautiful 4K and a proper sound system is like nothing you’ve ever witnessed before. Unless it’s golf – then it’s just people wacking away at a ball every 30 minutes. After the jump, the full breakdown of Sony gear used in this year’s Olympic games.