We've just come out of Sony's press conference at CES, and it was interesting for a number of reasons.
To say the company needs a big year in 2013 is a huge understatement - last year, of course, Sony made a net loss of 456.7bn yen (£5bn, $5.7bn). It hasn't made a profit in nearly 5 years and back in November its credit rating was junked to the lowed possible level, a sign that Japanese banks have not much faith in things improving any time soon.
So it was very interesting that the headline product at the company's press conference was in fact not the super-expensive new living room-sized Ultra HDs and new 4K distribution service, but the Xperia Z "super-phone" we already knew was coming.
"When I took over at Sony just 18 months ago, I made a commitment to revitalise Sony's consumer electronic business, combining that magical mix of science and wonder to create an emotional experience that only Sony can deliver," said president and CEO Kazuo Hirai, kicking off the press conference after 1,000 jetlag-riddled journalists had their eardrums blown out by ludicrously loud intro music.
It seems this "emotional experience" is based around mobile above all else, a significant change in thinking at Sony but it certainly makes a lot of sense – Sony will have been eyeing up Samsung's profitable dominance of the smartphone market with envious eyes.
It certainly makes sense to focus its commercial ambition on products people are actually likely to buy rather than ones they would buy if they could increase their salaries by a factor of 10.
Where's the Crystal LED TV?
It was also interesting that the big story at last year's CES - Sony's stunning Crystal LED TV tech - was mentioned precisely... zero times at this year's event.
Last-CES, Sony said this new technology was running in "parallel to its continued development and commercialisation of OLED displays, and Sony will work conscientiously to bring the Crystal LED Display to market."
When Hirai himself introduced the jaw-dropping 56-inch 4k OLED prototype (whose input source promptly crashed and rebooted back into Windows 20 seconds after it was wheeled out onto the stage) at this year's show, he actually said, "At Sony we don't just talk about technology, we deliver technology."
So has Crystal LED been abandoned or not? Perhaps the sheer expense of developing and bringing that tech to market has proven to be a bit too much? We'll certainly be quizzing Sony on that later so stay tuned for the latest.
We're currently poking around Sony's new gear on the show floor so we'll bring you our first thoughts very soon. Quick headline: the 4K OLED prototype is absolutely mesmerising, though it's amusingly being touted as the "world's first and largest 4K OLED TV". For the record, it's also the world's smallest 4K OLED TV, the heaviest, the lightest and the smelliest. But I digress.
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