Sony CEO: We’re In A Race Against Steve Jobs’s Legacy To Revolutionize The TV Set



Steve Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson he had “finally cracked” the television set, sparking more rumors his team in Cupertino are on the cusp of launching a revolutionary new television that will change home entertainment forever.

Apple won’t be the first to attempt this, however. Sony’s CEO Sir Howard Stringer says he is competing against Steve Jobs to change the traditional television set.

In a breakfast hosted by The Wall Street Journal, Stringer revealed he has “no doubt” that Apple is working on a revolutionary television set, but insists the Cupertino company isn’t the only one on the task. Sony is also working on something completely different; “That’s what we’re all looking for,” Stringer said.

The CEO revealed he is personally competing against Apple’s co-founder and former CEO, and that his company has spent the last five years developing an ecosystem strong enough to take on Apple’s:

I spent the last five years building a platform so I can compete against Steve Jobs. It’s finished, and it’s launching now.

Stringer said, “there’s a tremendous amount of R&D going into a different kind of TV set,” and insisted “it will take a long time to transition to a new form of television.”

As things currently stand, Sony loses money on every single television set it sells, and that has to change, Stringer said:

We can’t continue selling TV sets [the way we have been]. Every TV set we all make loses money.

If Sony’s product really is “launching now,” then the company will be the first to attempt to change the way we watch TV. Analysts have predicted that Apple’s set won’t arrive until 2013, but it could be well worth the wait. Rumors claim the device will feature Apple’s intelligent Siri assistant, and Steve promised “it will have the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

  • MarkCarruthers

    Lose money on every TV set they sell?  Really?  Great job Sony!

  • CharliK

    So many companies try to best Apple and fail. Perhaps they should try Apple’s tactic, which is to basically forget about the other boys and only try to best themselves.

  • sebzar

    I just hope for Sony it is airplay enabled.

  • CharliK

    Typical. These types of companies rarely make any real obey on their products but rather on their patents. 

  • gareth edwards

    That is truly amazing that they lose money on every set they sell. Truly gobsmacking.

    Good luck to them, it’s nice to see the big boys (no doubt the others are all working stuff out too) all being energised to put some serious effort into the most ubiquitous of technologies at last, instead of just pedalling the same old, same old.

    The TV is THE great prize, always has been and, until we stop wanting to sit still in a room on our own or with friends and family, it always will be.  For as much stick as the TV gets, people like TV in the same way as they like radio. It’s probably the overall simplicity of the platform that makes it so enduring. I think this is the key, you can’t go in there and completely reinvent it, you have to take the core essence of the technology (in TV’s case simplicity) and make that part of the new vision. No point it making it too hard to use, or too complicated to navigate because otherwise it’s going to turn people off.

    Thinking about Sony. their track record to usability has never been completely solid but I think the pressure that Apple has exerted over the tech market (and how it has done this through a focus on UI and design) might be the catalyst Sony really need to help them pull their socks up. Go on boys, let’s see what you got.

  • Tony

    Once Sony starts improving their products, rather than their bottom line, they may become more popular again, and ready to compete. They have been building a new eco-system for the last five years, just to compete, but they forgot to innovate.

  • Kenneth Berger

    Creating a new ecosystem is way harder than creating a new TV interface.  An ecosystem will require more than a single thing:
    1. A killer product that will own a category and enable rapid wide adoption (iPod in Apple’s case).
    2. Integrated on at least 3 levels with device (TV, Phone iPod), cloud / backend (iTunes & Netobjects) and computer (software).  Arguably today that would need to include more than one device as in both phone and TV.
    3. Great content (this could be Music, Games or commercial programing or could be user created content) they key is something everyone wants to have access to.  gain today it arguably needs to be more than a single category.
    Sony has access to all the components to build this kind of ecosystem, but they have a very poor history in most of these areas and even in the device hardware segment their recent past is not encouraging. 
    The intersection of content, network delivery and portable devices (or technology and the liberal arts as Steve Jobs like to say) is still a bit of the wild wild west, and it is still possible for someone to build something revolutionary and get market share quickly (look what Android has accomplished in the phone market and the level of interest in the new Amazon Fire tablet). From this perspective Sony is still in the game especially with their strong brand and wide distribution in the CE / TV market.
    But if I was a betting man I would not count on Sony’s success, rather I would look to someone small who can combine the worlds of social network fabric into a TV / video content delivery system that builds very quickly from the internet.  This would be both disruptive and could grow to power without directly confronting the existing TV content providers. 

  • TylerHoj

    I can see iOS making it’s way into the TV set, with possibly an updated Apple remote or possibly all the emphasis on the TV is in the remote, and Apple works to change that. Regardless of what kind of TV Apple drops. I’m sure it’ll be insanely expensive. Look at the thunderbolt display, it’s a grand for an external monitor, which to me isn’t worth the money. Out of all of Apple’s products, most of which I own, I will NEVER spend a grand on a computer screen. Sorry Apple…

  • Evan Benford

    And it’s still hdmi-less.

  • WaterTrooper

    Why don’t they work together on a joint venture? Sony + Apple = SuperTV