Sony CEO, Sir Howard Stringer, believes that those “silly” 3D glasses needed to view 3D TV is helping reunite families by bring everyone together for TV events. He has also taken a stab at the performance of past Japanese management at Sony and is now claiming that Sony is not staking its future on 3D TV’s.
Sir Howard, who is trying to spruik Sony’s 3D TV offering, which is struggling in the Australian market after Sony was forced to withdraw a major PS3 console promotion due to a lack of supply, told the UK Daily Telegraph: “You talk about [3D glasses preventing] the family gathering around. [But] the family isn’t gathering around anyway,” he says. “When I go home to my family my son is in a darkened bedroom – God knows what he’s watching on the internet because the curtains are pulled and his door is shut, you don’t want to know with a 17-year old. My daughter is watching something softer and sweeter, and my wife now has a TV in a small room because she wants to watch anything remotely resembling Jane Austen and I’m here watching wall-to-wall British sports. So I think anything that brings you altogether is a good thing. It’s why reality television has succeeded; it’s why The X-Factor worked.
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Sir Howard says The X-Factor’s final was unusual because it brought his whole family together at their UK home. “Now you only do it [come together] for big sporting events and God knows you watched Susan Boyle partly hoping she would fall apart on the stage,” he told the media.
Sir Howard, 68, who was appointed to head Sony after what he described as massive “stuff up’s” by previous Japanese management, admitted that he has got a habit of ignoring advice from his Japanese colleagues which he says has at times, made him persona non grata in Tokyo society.
The Daily Telegraph reported him saying “I remember one of my favourite executives was afraid and being very productive that I would be the laughing stock when I started talking about 3D when I did,” he says. “But I did anyway, and a very well known executive rang me up and said, ‘You can’t stake your career on 3D, this is a mistake’. I said it’s not much of a career now, look how old I am. It would be one thing to stake your career at 38, but at 68 it’s not so brave.”
In another strange move he admits that Sony has spent hundreds of millions promoting 3D TVs at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa despite the fact that Sony has little 3D TV stock in stores.
He said “We knew we weren’t going to sell millions of sets during the World Cup because we didn’t have the capability,” he says. “The televisions aren’t ubiquitous. But I think we got the point across pretty well – If you don’t know that Sony does 3D by now you haven’t been paying attention.”
A senior Samsung executive said: “We love it, they drive the traffic into stores and we get the sale”.
Five years ago a board director at Philips told ChannelNews that one of the big mistakes Philips had made in the flat panel TV market was promoting product that consumers could not buy in retail stores. “This led to our downfal,l” he said.
Philips exited the TV market 2 years ago.
Commenting on Sony’s problems which has seen the company lose billions, axe 18,000 staff and close 20 factories, much of it under Stringers reign, he told the Daily Telegraph that it was incredibly difficult to make the Japanese understand there was a problem because the “Japanese are brilliant non-spenders”. “They move into each other’s houses, the kids move home to their parents, they don’t buy cars because the public transport is so good. Yet go to Tokyo and all the restaurants are packed – there’s no physical evidence of pain. Japan had a stagnant economy for 10 years, yet it has the best trains in the world, the best infrastructure and no crime. [People would say] what’s the big deal?”
He says his Japanese experience has taught him that “no one really knows” what’s going to happen to the global economy. “I’m still slightly appalled by the failure to recognise the recession as it was coming or the impact of the banks. So when people tell you it’s a double-dip recession I don’t think anybody really knows.”