Business Technology

Saturday 23 September 2017

CES 2017: Sony improved fortunes by creating products that are 'precious' - CEO

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai introduces the Bravia A1E OLED TV during a news conference at CES International Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai introduces the Bravia A1E OLED TV during a news conference at CES International Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Martyn Landi

Sony has improved its fortunes in recent times after it previously "forgot" about the emotion needed to create desirable products, chief executive Kazuo Hirai has said.

The Japanese technology giant has just revealed its first Bravia OLED TV at the CES tech show in Las Vegas.

It is directly challenging rivals Samsung and LG by using OLED in its modern screens for the first time, a move Mr Hirai says was driven by an upturn in fortunes and a belief it could now stand out from its rivals.

Sony reported the biggest loss in its history (£5.1bn) in 2012, the same year Mr Hirai became CEO, and thousands of jobs were cut. However his reorganisation of the business and change of approach has seen numbers improve and between 2014 and 2015 income rose by more than £1.5 bn, creating new confidence.

"One (change) is obviously the renewed focus on just making sure that we have strong product," Mr Hirai told the Press Association.

"And when I say strong product we're not just talking about features and functionality but strong product that appeals to the emotional part - what I call emotional value - in all of our products.

"They should be precious items. I think we may have forgotten that for a while and started to basically compete just on features, functionality and price and that's only half the equation because we're famous and we're known for design and that emotional value aspect."

Mr Hirai called the firm's TV business along with its audio products "literally the history of the company" and said it would continue to try to innovate in these areas.

A man in a mechanized robotic costume kisses a woman's hand as she takes a picture of the encounter at the CES Unveiled event at CES in Las Vegas, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A man in a mechanized robotic costume kisses a woman's hand as she takes a picture of the encounter at the CES Unveiled event at CES in Las Vegas, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A show-goer tries out the YouCam Makeup mirror which shows different make up without actually applying any in at CES in Las Vegas, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
The Bloomlife Smart Pregnancy Tracker is shown which tracks and counts labor contractions at home at CES in Las Vegas, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A showgoer looks at the Avatar iPal robot for childen, eldercare and retail applications at CES in Las Vegas, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Phoebe Yu of Eyeque Corp., demonstrates her EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker vision testing device attached to a smart phone at CES in Las Vegas, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Wei-Shin Lai, inventor and CEO of Acoustic Sheep LLC shows off her invention, the Dozer music player and sleep tracker for children at CES in Las Vegas, January 3, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
The PowerRay is on display at the Powervision booth during CES Unveiled before CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. The underwater drone will detect and take footage of fish. The device can also be controlled by VR goggles. (AP Photo/John Locher)
An employee demonstrates the Matrix Powerwatch during CES Unveiled before CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. The smart watch is powered by body heat from the wearer. (AP Photo/John Locher)
An employee uses a PTU 360 degree spherical camera during CES Unveiled before CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
A woman wears Taclim VR shoes at the Cerevo booth during CES Unveiled before CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. The shoes have haptic feedback. (AP Photo/John Locher)
The Olly personal assistant is displayed at the Emotech booth during CES Unveiled before CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. The personal assistant is designed to adapt how it interacts with a person based on the person's mood and personality. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Hair Coach smart hairbrushes are displayed at the Withings booth during CES Unveiled before CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. The brush uses sensors to track hair damage and will, via a smart-phone app, offer recommendations and advice on hair care. (AP Photo/John Locher)
The Link AKC smart dog collar is displayed during CES Unveiled before CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
The Vuze 360 degree VR camera is displayed during CES Unveiled before CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LG's new smart fridge that users can control with their voice thanks to the integration of AmazonÕs Alexa personal assistant, which was unveiled during the CES Consumer Technology Show 2017. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 4, 2017. See PA story TECHNOLOGY LG. Photo credit should read: LG/PA Wire
Alanna Cotton, vice president of Samsung Electronics America, introduces the Samsung Notebook 9 during a Samsung Electronics news conference at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
The Samsung Notebook Odyssey gaming laptop is displayed during a Samsung Electronics news conference at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Wireless noise-canceling earbuds are displayed during a Sony news conference at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Wireless noise-canceling earphones are displayed during a Sony news conference at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
A Sony A99 II camera is displayed during a Sony news conference at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada January 4, 2017. The 42 megapixel camera can take 12 frames per second and also takes 4K video.REUTERS/Steve Marcus
A Sony FES watch is displayed during a Sony news conference at the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Panasonic's direct drive Hi-Fi turntable is on display during a news conference at CES International Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich holds a Project Alloy all-in-one merged reality headset during an Intel news conference before CES International, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
The FlexWash and FlexDry are unveiled during a Samsung news conference before CES International, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
The LG Hub Robot & Mini are unveiled during an LG news conference before CES International, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Meghan Puhr participates in a virtual realty presentation during an Intel news conference before CES International, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
The Toyota Concept-i is unveiled during a news conference at CES International Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
An attendee uses his phone to photograph the Toyota Concept-i during a news conference at CES International, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Han Chen reacts as he participates in a virtual realty presentation during an Intel news conference before CES International, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

This year at CES that includes introducing a TV that contains Acoustic Surface technology, where the sound vibrates out through the screen, removing the need for any speakers.

"Because we're not the first to market and there are other companies who actually have OLED TVs on the market as we speak, we need to be able to differentiate it through our technology, our design and obviously picture quality," Mr Hirai said.

"We brought it out now because we knew we could differentiate (from competitors), in a nutshell."

Having begun at the company on the original PlayStation console, Mr Hirai also spoke of his excitement for the future of PlayStation VR, Sony's virtual reality system that was released last year.

"I started at Sony Computer Entertainment on the original PlayStation and that was back in 1994-95 and look how far we've come," he said.

"It's 20 years I get that, but in 20 years we've gone from saying 'wow' at 3D polygons to this. It's why I think video game entertainment is so interesting because the technology leap you have in each generation is so expansive compared to motion pictures, for example. It's a pretty exciting industry."

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