The Wall Street Journal
November 10, 2011
By SHARA TIBKEN
NEW YORK—Sony Corp.’s chief executive said Thursday that the Japanese electronics giant is well-positioned to turn out the innovative products needed to re-energize the television market, even as it faces design-savvy competitors like Apple Inc.
Howard Stringer, speaking at a breakfast hosted by The Wall Street Journal, said TV manufacturers, driven by their desire to rack up market share, have bred an intensely competitive market. As a result, they are scrambling to come up with a new generation of TV sets that will separate them from the pack and command premium prices.
Mr. Stringer declined to discuss details of what Sony has on the drawing board, but said, “There’s a tremendous amount of R&D going into a different kind of TV set.” He added that he has “no doubt” Apple’s late leader Steve Jobs also was working on changing the traditional TV set.
“That’s what we’re all looking for,” said Mr. Stringer. “We can’t continue selling TV sets [the way we have been]. Every TV set we all make loses money.”
Sony said last week that it expects a loss of more than $1 billion in the fiscal year through March, in part because of its struggling television business, which has been a thorn in its side for close to a decade. The business has bled red ink because of plunging prices and declining demand.
Sony isn’t alone in struggling to turn a profit in the TV market. Manufacturers are finding it more difficult to establish the differences among models, so consumers often choose the least expensive one available. The resulting pressure on profits has increased recently, as demand has declined in the U.S., Japan and Europe.
Mr. Stringer said he wouldn’t underestimate Apple’s ability to come up with a novel concept, but he noted it is a tricky process. “It will take a long time to transition to a new form of television,” Mr. Stringer said.