Sony hopes online service will build brand loyalty
Tokyo: Sony's new online service connecting the whole range of its gadgets to downloadable content like movies and games should help build brand loyalty, a top executive said Friday.
Executive Vice President Kazuo Hirai said the service highlights an advantage that Sony has over rivals like Samsung Electronics Co. and other manufacturers that don't produce their own content. Sony's business empire spans gaming, electronics, movies and music.
"That's the kind of combination that I think is not seen anywhere else," Hirai said in an interview at Tokyo headquarters. "That I think is where our core competence lies, and that's a differentiator for Sony."
The online service, set to start next year, will include games, movie downloads and other interactive entertainment, which will be accessible on Sony products, such as Bravia TVs, Cyber-shot digital cameras and Reader electronic books.
Sony is targeting annual sales of 300 billion yen (USD 3.4 billion) from its networked services businesses and 350 million network-connected products by the fiscal year ending March 2013.
Sony already has a service for PlayStation 3 video games, which began about three years ago and has attracted 33 million users.
In outlining a turnaround strategy Thursday, Chief Executive Howard Stringer flagged network services as a major area where Sony hopes to grow, as well as 3-D TVs, new displays, electronic books and batteries for cars.
Hirai said the planned service was a chance to one-up rivals at a time when products are becoming commodities, with prices being the big way to compete.
"We want to increase the value, or the brand loyalty of our Sony products. There is no question about it," he said.