Sony at IFA 2011: let the tablet wars begin

Sony at IFA 2011: let the tablet wars begin
CEO Howard Stringer takes the stage

It's no surprise for a company to put on a smoke and mirrors display at IFA 2011, given that the show is only a few months from CES so not every manufacturer has things to announce, but we were surprised that Sony brought actual smoke and mirrors to its conference.

The show floor was flanked by massive mirror pillars, a smoke machine was going off somewhere in the background literally adding to the atmosphere and the music and lighting were definitely set to moody.

We were half expecting a Cirque De Soleil performance to begin (which has happened before in a press conference) but what we got instead CEO Sir Howard Stringer came to the stage and he meant business.

"This year we at Sony have been flooded, flattened, hacked, and singed," Stringer told attendees referring to what's been a disastrous year for the company. "But the summer of discontent is behind us."

And with this Stringer pushed the reasons why it is a company that no(.)other can touch, when it comes to the entertainment and the technology sector.

"Yes, Apple makes an iPad but does it make a movie?" Asked Stringer.

"Samsung makes TVs but where is its music makers? Warner Bros makes great movies but only one company has both artists and engineers in abundance."

Sony Entertainment Network

It is this marriage of artist and engineers where the Sony Entertainment Network strategy has been born.

This is a bringing together of all of Sony's assets into one place and means the death of Qriocity and the birth of Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited – two on-demand services that all of its connected devices will plug into, from its new range of tablets to it Xperia mobile phones and its Walkman and smart TV line-up.

This is Sony finally bringing an eco-system to its products, much like Apple has done with iTunes.

In fact Apple got numerous name checks and sly digs throughout Stringer's speech, with the most pertinent being in his talk on tablets where he noted: "We will prove that it is not who makes it first that counts but who makes it better."

Tablet talk

The Sony Tablet P and Sony Tablet S sure are different beasts from the iPad. The Tablet P's clam-shell chassis and the Tablet S's magazine-like look are different enough from Apple's tablet that we shouldn't see the two company's in the patent courts anytime soon but Sony is coming to the party late with its tablet line-up.

Considering it's a party, however, where the iPad is the one getting all the ladies while others eat canapés on the sidelines wishing they had iOS factor, this doesn't seem to be something that is worrying Sony.

In all a dozen new products were shown off by Sony, including an addition to its Walkman line-up, the bizarre but intriguing Personal 3D Viewer, a Wi-Fi Version of its Reader device and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S.

With this bumper crop of releases, Sony is hoping to rid itself of this year's past woes and turn the tide in what are still tough economic times.

As SCEI Chairman Kaz Hirai said in his speech at the event: "The entertainment industry is facing a whirlwind of challenges. However, people still have the desire to be entertained in times like these. We have met these economic and technological challenges with a determined philosophy.

"Our journey will always take us to a world of connected devices that will always be Sony."

After its press conference at IFA 2011, we would be inclined to agree.

You can check out video of all the best Sony products on show at IFA below:

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.