Anticipating consumers’ needs

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Sony is changing the way it will be introducing new products into the UK market. “We are at the cross-roads now and have to decide which way we’ll go – work on keeping up the value or go down market,” said Steve Dowdle, managing director of Sony UK to the trade press at the Sony Key Dealer launch in Dublin. From now onwards the company will be scrutinizing carefully the needs and aspirations of its consumer markets (they may vary from country to country) and will diversify its product proposals to match precisely the requirements of local markets.

Andy Benson, commercial director of Sony UK, confirmed the direction of the company’s future market strategy: “Sony is prepared to lose market share but will focus on putting the value into the market.” In addition to a host of new products in all CE categories, previewed at the Key Dealer event, Sony will be investing significantly in new product categories, such as Blu-ray, the Reader and digital photo frames, the functionality of which goes far beyond displaying digital images.

All Sony’s news products will be targeted at its four customer markets: ‘status seekers’, ‘experience embracers’, ‘connectors’ and ‘innovation enthusiasts’ (see the box). For example, ‘status seekers’ and ‘innovation enthusiasts’ will be natural customers for Sony’s ultra thin LCD – BRAVIA ZX1 (9.9mm wide) and the BRAVIA Z4500 models – the super fast LCD TV which reproduces very-smooth motion with the 200Hz frame rate.

For technology enthusiasts Sony has developed two new models of Walkman. The Walkman X series is a video MP3 player with crystal clear 3in OLED touch screen. Its sound quality is enhanced with an S-Master Digital Amplifier and it comes with digital noise cancelling headphones. It also has Wi-Fi connectivity which allows for streaming internet content, such as YouTube or podcasts, and for internet browsing.

Minimalist in design, Walkman S series, designed for sport enthusiasts eliminates wires all together by compacting the player and the headphones on one headband. It has the Zappin function for easy searching and selecting of songs from the owner’s collection as it detects and plays the main chorus part of each track, enabling users to find the preferred song with just a few touches of the jog dial.

Among other product innovations from Sony, which will shortly be launched into the marketplace, are new digital photo LCD panels – ‘S-Frames’ – with a capacity of 2GB able to store up to 4,000 images. They boast very high contrast, better colour representation and reduced glare. The Auto Touch-Up feature allows correction of common image problems, such as red-eye, soft focus or skin blemishes. There is a wide range of slideshow modes, including clock and calendar, and a search function for tracking down favourite photos.

In the pipeline from Sony there is also a number of cameras and camcorders with truly innovative features, which will be entering the market in the coming months. Especially the camcorder market is an important one for the company, as Sony already leads with a 42% market share and aims to reach a 47% share, establishing its leadership in the HD camcorder sector.

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