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Sony (SNE) Dreams About A Turnaround By Focussing On Smartphones, 4K And Gaming!

Once, the undisputed leader of consumer electronics, Sony (NYSE: SNE) is now being valued at just a fraction of its competitors. Sony has announced that it will sell its VAIO division of personal desktops and laptops to Lenovo (OTCMKTS:LNVGY) because it couldn’t cope up with the declining PC market and their inability to compete in that space anymore. Sony has also announced the closure of their ‘Reader’ ebooks store in favour of their competitor Kobo, at least in US and Canada. Sony still expects to post a net loss of around $1.08 billion. Ever since Kazou Hirai has taken over as the CEO of Sony, he is actively trying to streamline its businesses by trimming off the fat and propagating the ‘One Sony’ motto. Let’s have a look at how Sony plans to pull off a great turnaround we’ve been waiting for.

Total Revenue Of Sony Since 2008
Total Revenue Of Sony Since 2008

Sony Sold Over A Million PS4 Units On Launch Day

No other sector has seen growth as explosive as the gaming industry. Ever since the launch of PlayStation, Sony Computer Entertainment division has been a force to be reckoned with in the gaming industry. PlayStation is one of the most loved brands from Sony and people relate to it, especially in the US and Canada, which is home to largest number of gamers in the world. Sony managed to sell over 1 million PS4 units on launch day in US and Canada. With the Xbox One, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is trying to attract couch potatoes who like to game as well by merging the TV and gaming experience. On the other hand, Sony is trying to make hardcore gamers happy with PS4 features like easier game sharing and a better membership plan. Sony is trying to convey that they understand “pure gamers” much better than Microsoft does.

Revenue Of Select Game Publishers Worldwide
Revenue Of Select Game Publishers Worldwide

Although the PS4 hardware is slightly more powerful than the Xbox One, it is not the factor which results into sales. It all depends on the platform which offers better and more exclusive gaming titles. Probably some upcoming features such as remote play to VITA and cloud gaming will entice consumers in investing the PS4 ecosystem. Although it is too early to call, Xbox is a step ahead of PS4. Probably, the year 2014 will shed some more light on Sony’s strategy with the PS4.

Sony Wants To Focus On 4K TVs But Is The Market Big Enough?

Sony’s Bravia line-up of televisions are failing to keep up with Samsung (KRX: 005930) and Vizio. Since they’ve sold the LCD panel producing JV to Samsung, they’ve pulled off similar exits from other joint venture arrangements with Sharp (TYO: 6753) and Panasonic (TYO: 6752). After these exits, Sony had very little control over the thing that actually matters in televisions – the quality of display panels. Also, buying panels from other manufacturers meant little to no profits at all. In 2011, Sony saw a 24% drop in TV sales after which they went back to the drawing board to start afresh. They tried to come up with the best possible picture and sound quality along with slimmer and neater designs. Sony announced that they will turn their TV division into a completely different wholly-owned subsidiary in order to improve profits.

DisplaySearch TV Shipment Growth By Technology
DisplaySearch TV Shipment Growth By Technology

According to NPD DisplayResearch, the global TV market is experiencing a slump and the only way to increase sales is to showcase newer technologies. TV vendors are trying to attract buyers with new technologies such as 4K, Curved Screens and OLED panels. Currently, Samsung and LG are busy bringing OLED and curved televisions into mainstream. 4K LCD TVs are expected to outpace OLED TV shipments. Sony plans to have laser focus on producing 4K panels and hit competitors where it hurts them. Vizio has just done what it does best, making huge screens and selling them at dirt cheap prices. But selling people 4K TVs will be hard without 4K content. Sony is planning to produce more 4K content through its movie production house and digital imaging divisions. But as the market for 4K isn’t big enough, Sony will still sell entry-level models before slowly moving off to the high-end category.

NEX Series Has Brought Sony Into The Limelight

Sony is currently the 3rd largest digital camera vendor behind Canon (TYO: 7751) and Nikon (TYO: 7731). But similar to the PC business. The compact digital camera industry is losing many users to Smartphones. Although Smartphones aren’t likely to ever be able to achieve the image and video quality of dedicated digital cameras but the quality has improved enough for people to use mobile phones for most of their casual purposes. But for capturing all those special occasions, consumers are moving to cameras which offer professional level quality. This is exactly what MILCs (mirror less interchangeable lens cameras) offer to general consumers. They are slim, light and easy to operate compared to DSLR counterparts.

Mirrorless Camera Marketshare - BCN Ranking
Mirrorless Camera Marketshare – BCN Ranking

No wonder, this new category of digital cameras are outpacing the growth rate of DSLR cameras. Sony’s NEX line-up of MILCs have attracted great reviews and they are already one of the best selling MILCs in the market. According to a report from BCN, Sony already stands 2nd in mirror less camera market just behind Olympus (TYO: 7733).

Xperia Smartphones Are Gaining Interest Among Consumers

Sony acquired the remaining shares of Sony-Ericsson joint venture to make Sony Mobile Communications a complete in-house business. According to Sony’s PR Release, they sold the PC business to focus on Smartphones and tablets. After struggling for 3 years to create a compelling Android Smartphone, it looks like they’ve finally got it. They’ve released their best Smartphone ever in the form of Sony Xperia Z1 Compact which has garnered a very positive feedback from the reviewers throughout the world.

Global Market Share Of Sony Mobile Communications Gartner
Global Market Share Of Sony Mobile Communications – Gartner

Starting with Xperia Z, all of their flagship Smartphones will be water-resistant, dust and shatter proof. With the help of their Digital Imaging division, Sony is focussing on providing the world’s best camera image quality in their Smartphones. According to Canalys, Windows Phone will closely compete with iOS in terms of market share by 2017 and Sony is already in talks with Microsoft to release Windows Phone based Smartphones.

Their plan is to have laser focus on properly developing and marketing the PlayStation, 4K TVs, NEX cameras and Xperia brands going forward. If they execute their plans properly we might have a chance to see Sony back in full glory but not anytime soon.

Brief Companies Games Microsoft XBox

Sony Corporation (ADR)(SNE) Beats Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) To Console Launch Race

Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) have got a head start over Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) when it comes to the launch of the next generation console. The PS4 will enter the market exactly one week before the Xbox One.

Microsoft have finally announced the launch of the Xbox One on November 22, which is exactly a week after Sony’s PS4 launch. This begs the question, couldn’t they have launched a week before? After all, a one week head start could prove costly to Xbox One sales, just in case the PS4 lives up to its billing and demolishes all previous generation first week console sales records. To make matters worst for Microsoft, the PS4 is also priced a good $100 less than the Xbox One.

The PS4 at E3.

The stakes have never been higher in the multi-billion dollar game console market. While both parties have had massive media coverage over the past year or so, the build up to the launch of the two most anticipated consoles ever has turned ugly. Microsoft have had their share of DRM troubles (as usual) and when they announced the Xbox One prices and features at E3 earlier this year, Sony cashed in on all the negative PR they generated by announcing the restrictions on used games and didn’t mind taking potshots at Microsoft. In fact they went one step better, by pricing the PS4 exactly a $100 less than the Xbox One.

The Xbox One is priced $499 at launch while the PS4 is priced $399 at launch.

The Xbox One supporters continue to justify the higher price by saying that Microsoft’s console comes bundled with the motion sensing camera and Sony’s doesn’t. That is a valid point but the fact remains that gamers are more concerned about games than features such as a motion sensor. Perhaps, the people looking for a complete home entertainment system might be more interested in checking out Microsoft’s motion sensing technology.

The Xbox One.

But let’s not forget the other side of the coin. Microsoft might actually gain from launching the Xbox One, a week later. What happens if the early reviews for the PS4 aren’t as exciting as expected? If Sony blink in the first week, the Xbox One sales might head for the clouds, simply because the word of the mouth is the most powerful medium in this social media age.

Microsoft could have capitalized on the launch of Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Ghosts, which is simply put – the biggest game release of the season. The game releases on November 5, and if the Xbox One was around, it could have definitely cashed in. But all is not lost for Microsoft because the Xbox One will be coming just in time for the holidays.

Nintendo Co., Ltd (ADR) (OTCMKTS:NTDOY) which tried to beat Microsoft and Sony at their own game by launching the Nintendo Wii U, a year earlier than its rival consoles, and have suffered from the lack of third party publisher support for the Wii U, are also looking to launch a number of titles this holiday season. Just last week they resorted to a dramatic price cut strategy for the Wii U and announced the launch of the Nintendo 2DS, a strange looking console for the eight year old gamer.
The Nintendo Wii U has few takers right now.
The Wii U is now priced at $299, which means a $100 less than the Sony console and a cool $200 less than the Microsoft offering. But the fact remains that Nintendo are not competing with either Sony or Microsoft, rather they just want to achieve a reasonable degree of sales before the two console gaming behemoths storm the market.
At the moment Sony seems to have played all its cards right and is best placed among all three to tilt the consumer interest towards itself, to cut the long story short Sony start as favorites.
Brief Games XBox

Microsoft Xbox One – A Real PR Disaster ?

The run-up to the launch of the Xbox One, due to reach around 20 countries by Christmas 2013, is not exactly going well for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). Jail-like features on the console – any time it is disconnected from an active internet connection – have left some users feeling nonplussed, as it seems at any moment, you could effectively lose access to all of your installed games without warning.

Gamers who find themselves adjudged to have breached terms and conditions, abused the rules of the online gaming community, or are believed to have committed some form of fraud, could reportedly find their account frozen – which many have claimed could also lock them out of their games, effectively trial without jury.

Least importantly, but very annoyingly, the name makes it that much harder to know what to call the original Xbox – and, I suspect, is likely to cause confusion among non-gamer parents hoping to buy the new console for their kids.

Microsoft Xbox One

Indeed, Microsoft have made so many apparent U-turns in the development of the console, it’s all most gamers can do to keep up with the latest official features list.

At one point, it was widely reported that the Kinect motion-sensitive controller system – in which the player acts as the controller, simply by moving their body – would be mandatory for all Xbox One games.

Now that seems to have fallen by the wayside, along with many of the other features that were met with such dismay by the gaming community; so what’s left?

Well, in typical Microsoft style, it seems the operating system has some of the few remaining features – and one of the best remaining capabilities is little more than a voice-activated alt-tab option to flick quickly between games and television.

Up against stiff competition from the Nintendo Wii U and the upcoming Sony PlayStation 4, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Xbox One will bomb completely.

As for me, I’ve never been a fan of motion-controlled gaming; the original Nintendo Wii was a nice gimmick and good for families, but was never for gamers, and the Wii U never will be either. Kinect is fine unless you play on a home cinema system with a projector, in which case you can’t really stand in front of the screen.

So when they’ve all hit the market and I’ve had a proper look at the next generation of consoles, I suspect I will sell my Xbox 360 – which has never been breathtaking – and invest in a PS4 instead.

Even that is beginning to sound unappealing though, with reports that you will have to pay to be able to play games online against other players.

It is perhaps unsurprising that, in this age of always-on internet and network-connected consoles, manufacturers might try to make use of networked access to the machines to exert some control over how consumers use them in their own homes.

But I, for one, will always prefer any machine that can work to at least a decent proportion of its full functionality, simply by being plugged into the mains and a television, in a room with no internet access.

Brief Games XBox

Nintendo Could Die If They Don’t Innovate Soon Enough [Report]

Nintendo co., Ltd are in trouble, maybe they don’t see it yet, but they are in trouble.

The Japanese consumer electronics giant which revolutionized the video game industry is now consistently being outperformed, and its not just about the revenues anymore, its about their legacy, they are being out-innovated (if that’s a word) by not one but both of their major competitors – Microsoft and Sony.

The Xbox One and the PS4 are making headlines everywhere. While Microsoft’s console seeks to change the way people consume entertainment in their living rooms, Sony’s PS4 is solely focused on taking the user’s gaming experience to the next level.

The Nintendo Wii U.

Nintendo’s USP has always been – games for the masses and not games for the serious gamers (which seems to be changing over the last couple of years thanks largely to Ubisoft). But they still lag way behind their competition in terms of publisher interest, which in 2013 is as important as it was in 2003.

Let me put things in perspective for Nintendo :

  • Nintendo’s Wii U is a darn good console and is good enough to take the PS3 and Xbox 360 head on, but then Nintendo are way too late to the party. Sony and Microsoft already have their next generation consoles lined up, and Nintendo’s best yet is unfortunately only second best.
  • Publisher support for the Wii U is mediocre compared to its competition.
  • With GPU specs improving every quarter chances of tablets and smartphones challenging last generation consoles such as the Xbox 360 and PS3 are rife. Especially since the likes of AMD with their APU processor range are powering the console business and at the same delving into mobile platforms to blur the line between processors for consoles, PCs and tablets. Which is indeed bad news for Nintendo because a majority of game titles on their consoles aren’t known for their massive graphical rendering capabilities.

Here’s what’s truly wrong with Nintendo right now, and it is a problem which if not addressed soon could soon become the catalyst for Nintendo console business’ untimely demise.

  • Electronic Arts doesn’t seem to be too keen on Nintendo, and they have no games in development for the Wii U currently.
  • Take Two Interactive is still quiet about its plans for the Wii U.
  • Activision is yet to announce a major game for the Nintendo console.
  • Major publishers aren’t keen on having exclusive titles for the Wii U.
  • The number of major multi-platform games often leave the Wii U out of the equation, and the word multi-platform support is increasingly becoming a dual platform support thanks to the Xbox and the Sony consoles.

Ubisoft still remains the one third party publisher whose support and success has kept much of the interest of the serious gamers intact for the Nintendo Wii and the Wii U.

Now just imagine Ubisoft pulling the plug on Nintendo. That’s scary if you are Nintendo.

Nintendo’s favorite Italian plumber.

Let’s face it, if Konami, Capcom, EA, Take Two, Activision and Ubisoft are not publishing games for the Nintendo console, the Wii U will not be able to survive based on first party or the Nintendo-only games. And if Nintendo’s best console in the market which is already 2 years too late isn’t able to excite third party publishers to stay on board, then there is little chance of Nintendo holding ground when the Xbox One and the PS4 hit the markets.

Nintendo needs to get its priorities right and bring serious gamers and major publishers back to its den in a year or so because time is in short supply for them, the next generation consoles will soon start infiltrating the markets.

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Google Is Reportedly Unfolding Android Powered Gaming Console, Smartwatch and New Nexus Q: Move to Wreck The Other Techn Giants?

Google AndroidGoogle Inc. (GOOG) is known for its avant garde innovations and technologies, this company is in news as it  may be working on a three new self-branded Android devices, to conquer a new market segment. According to Wall Street Journal, the company is developing an Android-based game console, Smartwatch and an updated version of the Nexus Q.  It looks like the company is focusing to develop these products to encounter anything Apple has been rumored to produce.

To build a powerful gaming ecosystem around its Android Operating System, Google is said to be self produce and market these devices, the report states that at least one of the product will be launched to users, by the end of this year.

The Gaming Apps On Mobile

According to a report, Android users spend one-third of their time on playing games, Android on mobile has managed to grab users attention by introducing various mobile gaming Apps, Android is a sure winner as the user base is more in Android, as its device activation surpassed 900 million units globally. But unlike Microsoft  Corporation (MSFT) and Sony Corporation (SNE), Google does not have its own Gaming Console. So this move by Google could be a whole new beginning for Android in terms of Gaming Console.

The Gaming Consoles In The Market

Microsoft’s  gaming console Xbox and Sony’s PS have already won many hearts, these companies have created history with these consoles, and the companies’ latest entrants Xbox One and PS4 have already created the excitement in the users and are expected to be launched by the end of this year. When compared to Microsoft and Sony, Android is still in a beginning stage, so it will be quite hard for Google to grab the users for its gaming console, they have to either sell their gaming console in a lesser price or the gaming console have to be extra-ordinary.

Google has also been eying on Ouya Inc, a new kid in the Gaming town, which was launched this week, this $99 open game console uses the Android mobile OS and its initial allotment on sold out in a day, and has shocked the marketers.

The Coming Of Nexus Q

As for the expected refresh of Nexus Q, home entertainment device, the report states that the new version will be less expensive than its original price, $299, its sale to the public which was cancelled last year because of its high price.

Google’s Smartness With The Smart Watch

The asserted Google Smart watch will be paired with a user’s phone over Bluetooth, much like Google Glass currently does, Google’s smartness is in its timing, and there was recent news about Apple Inc is (AAPL) planning to launch its iWatch, this move of Google is commendable as it is throwing a hurdle to Apple in building a lead in a newer product category.

The Expected New Version Of Android

The New Version of Android, “K release” i.e. Key Lime Pie which is expected to have better software which is suited for a wider range of Android devices beyond just phones. Google will give complete freedom to manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (KRX:590035) to use this new software to use Android in appliances, wearable devices etc as wearable computing has become a lucrative area of development. This software aims to get tailored into the low-cost Smartphones; the strategy here is to tighten the Android market in the developing countries.

It’s no secret that Google wants to branch out Android from being just a phone OS, it has hit a few bumps on the road, it is assured that Google has quite a few rockets in its invention bag that will keep the users excited about Android.

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Sony PS4 vs Microsoft Xbox One : Sony Draws First Blood – But Microsoft Still In The Game.

PS4 was unleashed by Sony Computer Entertainment – division of Sony Corporation (SNE) at the E3 earlier today. If tech giant Microsoft Corp (MSFT) thought that their revolutionary Xbox One was going to beat every other console on the planet and re-instate them as the world’s favorite video game console makers then they were in for a big surprise.

The PS4 at E3.

Everybody at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was left gasping when the incredibly cool PlayStation 4 was unveiled to the world. And no, it wasn’t just the sheer power of its specs which left everyone stunned. It wasn’t even the amazing range of games that the PS4 will offer in the upcoming future. Instead it was the first thing a consumer notices about a great product, or any product for that matter – the price.

The difference between the price of the two most hyped game consoles of all times is a staggering $100. The Xbox One will be out in November and will cost $499 in the US and £429 in the UK. On the other hand the PS4 whenever it does release will be available at only $399 in the US and £349 in the UK. And that is where the PS4 stole the show from Microsoft’s ‘complete home entertainment package‘.

The PS4 promises to be a treat to the eyes.

The PS4 is no Xbox One when it comes to revolutionizing the television industry and it doesn’t even promise you the amazing Kinect like technology or voice control mechanism to blow your minds. But what it does do is what it was built to do, and it does that better than any other game console before it, including the Xbox One – being the best GAME CONSOLE ever. Period.

And here’s why –

  • Even though both boast of custom AMD chips and eight-core CPUs with 8GB of RAM. But the PS4 runs on a GDDR5 instead of Microsoft’s DDR3.
  • The PS4 will not impose any restrictions for playing second hand purchases, lending games, neither will they need an always-on internet connection. All these have become a bone of contention for the Xbox One fans.
  • The PS4’s open support to the indie game developers has come as a huge relief for everyone concerned. It has certainly sent a signal that Sony is more open to accepting great games not just from established publishing houses but also from small scale indie developers who have some amazing titles to offer to the loyal PS4 fanboys. Among them, island puzzler’s The witness is certainly one to watch out for.
  • While there are 140 confirmed titles in development for the PS4, 30 of them will be exclusive to it. Though the Xbox One will surely hold an edge here, the titles coming for the PS4 are among some of the very best graphically rendered games ever. Most notable among them are going to be The Order 1886, Killzone Shadowfall, inFamous Second Son, and the latest title in the legendary Final Fantasy franchise.
inFamous Second Son by SCEE, coming soon to the PS4.

While Sony might have taken the bull by the horn having put the ‘pricing on the cake’ with the PS4 announcement, Microsoft are certainly not one to be intimidated. They are making a case for their higher price, by emphasizing on the fact that the amazing Kinect sensors come bundled with the Xbox One, while people looking to get similar (though less effective) sensors for the PS4 will have to buy them additionally.

As a forever Final Fantasy and PlayStation fan, I do believe the PS4 is going to outsell the Xbox One initially. But what Microsoft are trying to do here is an attempt at creating a new niche market. Theirs is a product where you can watch a movie while Skyping with your granny and unleashing your wrath in a game of your choice, all at the same time.

mad max
Mad Max for PS4.

Sony had probably realized they needed to get a head start in this race, because if the Xbox One succeeds like its makers believe it will, then there might not be a market for game consoles of any other kind in the not so distant future.