Previously president of Sony Europe, Katsunori Yamanouchi will be attending NAB Show for the first time as president of Professional Solutions America, Sony Electronics as head of the division. With a new focus and a new role, Yamanouchi sat down with SportsTech for a short talk.
I moved to the U.S. a year ago and have learned a lot, as there are a couple of differences here. This is my 28th year at Sony, and I have always been on the professional business side. Twice I was with Sony Europe, and this is also my second time in the U.S. I also had a chance to cover Latin America so I have gained global experience, which is very helpful in understanding the different cultures and dynamics.
Bloomberg has put together an interesting piece, outlining the five years that Kaz Hirai has been at the helm of Sony with five different charts. Prior to Kaz Hirai, Sony was led by Sir Howard Stringer during a time that I like to refer to as ‘the lost decade’ during which competitors like Apple and Samsung were able to overtake the once-dominant brand. To help turn things around, Sony would promote Kaz Hirai to CEO in April 2012 and since then, he’s been able to double the company’s valuation.
Hirai’s biggest accomplishment has arguably been the return to profitability in consumer electronics. The 56-year old has slashed costs in everything from televisions to smartphones while retreating from unprofitable businesses. But he’s also doubled-down on more research and development, a move that’s resulted in “fewer and better products,” according to Macquarie Capital analyst Damian Thong.
If that sounds all too rosy, it’s because it is. Yes, Sony has been able to double its stock price, and yes, they are now profitable, but as the below chart shows, it’s not because they’re winning over consumers.
The gang at Dpreview recently had a chance to fly out to Sony’s Chonburi factory in Thailand where all Sony ILC cameras and lenses are assembled and chat with the company’s global head of interchangeable lens cameras, Kenji Tanaka. Of all the questions, perhaps the first one by Rishi Sanyal was the most telling: where Sony’s camera ambitions are headed.
Our biggest focus is to increase the [existing] market, not to segment it. The overall market is decreasing, and it’s been a challenge to increase the market, overall. We believe we can do so by targeting professionals and enthusiasts.
To say Sony has been on a roll with their camera sensors is to say that that PS4 has been a modest success for the company. Already this year, we’re seeing the company flex their expertise by introducing slow-motion video on their upcoming Xperia XZ Premium at 960fps and their IMX390 sensor which was developed with self-driving cars in mind. Now, Sony has another sensor to introduce to the world: the IMX382. As PetaPixel points out, the IMX382 is
an industrial sensor that can recognize and track objects at an insane 1,000fps.
The newly announced IMX382 is not destined to wind up in your smartphone, point and shoot, or ILC… it’s too small. At just 1.27MP, it was designed specifically for industrial use in factories, where it’ll spot issues with assembly line products more efficiently than anything else out there.
That’s because Sony built circuitry right into the sensor stack that can recognize and track moving objects accurately at 1,000fps
Here’s a video of the sensor in action:
Here’s something I don’t often get to say – Sony released an ad that’s simple and mesmerizing. Even though the price for the A1E OLED puts it out of range for most consumers, it’s important that this TV could have the right kind of flair and pizzazz to make people reconsider the brand, even if what they end up purchasing is a different TV like the X940E. A product halo affect is something that shouldn’t be underestimated and till now, even if Sony has had a worthy product, they haven’t been good at telling people about it.
Now of course a single ad released online isn’t suddenly going to drive massive mindshare towards Sony, nor the A1E but it’s a good sign and a beautiful ad. For those playing at home, make sure you change the video setting to 4K, sit back, and enjoy.
Goldman analysts Masaru Sugiyama and Yusuke Noguchi on Bloomberg:
We expect Sony to achieve its medium-term plan operating profit target for the first time in 10 years and believe it may surpass its record high
Those right there are words that have sadly not been equated with the company for a long time. Perhaps even better than posting a profit is where Sony could be headed, with analysts expecting the company to shift from recovery mode to growth.
analyst Yu Okazaki said investor interest is now shifting to what Sony will do to fuel further growth, as anticipation builds for the company’s investor day on May 23.
Here’s an interesting video for those of you interested in the professional space and what Sony is doing with their latest efforts from NAB 2017.
Learn about Sony’s media cloud offerings and how they can enhance your workflow
Following the positive news from earlier this week, we will likely see Sony, when they reveal their earnings report on Friday, post their second consecutive year with profits reaching $2 billion, meaning that this could be their best year since 1998. From Bloomberg:
Sony Corp. shares jumped the most in almost three months after the company’s better-than-projected preliminary earnings boosted analyst confidence in its ability to hit the highest profit levels in almost two decades.
The Tokyo-based company rose as much as 4.6 percent in early Tokyo trading, headed for its biggest jump since Feb. 3. Sony reported preliminary operating profit of 285 billion yen ($2.6 billion) for the fiscal year through March 2017, 19 percent higher than its previous forecast, according to a statement Friday after the close. It also said net income would be about 73 billion yen, more than twice the previous forecast.
That triggered JPMorgan Chase & Co. to upgrade its rating on the stock to overweight from neutral, while analysts from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to Credit Suisse Group AG reiterated bullish outlooks. They say that the previous fiscal year’s firm results indicate Sony can achieve operating profit of 500 billion yen, which would be the highest level since 1998.
If you just can’t wait any longer for the Xperia XZ Premium to drop then may I suggest the Xperia XA1? Sure it’s not as powerful as the flagship model, but it still offers some noteworthy specs like 3GB of RAM with 32GB of internal storage with microSD cars support for 256GB memory and perhaps most importantly, a 23-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 8-megapixel front-facing camera. As for viewing all those photos, you’re stuck with a 5-inch 720p display – sorry, high pixel count fans.
For many large tech companies, $2 billion profit a year is a mere drop in the bucket, but for Sony who’s struggled so much in the past decade, that’s a new two year record. This of course is no accident as Sony CEO Kaz Hirai has worked hard at getting the company towards profitability by closing divisions that didn’t make sense, cutting costs where possible, and dumping money in things that do – like PlayStation. Isabella Zhong from Barron’s Asia:
Sony Corporation (6758.JP) shares jumped 4.3% this morning after the Japanese electronics giant lifted its net profit outlook for fiscal 2017 by 181% to JPY73 billion.
Sony has also revised its operating profit forecast to JPY285 billion from JPY250 billion. The rosier outlook was mainly due to expected decreases in the amortization of deferred insurance acquisition costs and other costs in the financial services segment, as well as lower costs in February.
For 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.
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.
On 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.
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.
You 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.