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SONY SO U T H AFRICA

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IS SONY SET TO LIFT THE 3D TELEVISION WORLD CUP? Image composite features imagery courtesy of CLF 2

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Starting this year, companies are bringing 3DTV to a living room near you. The stereoscopic 3D-cinematic experience now available in movie theaters will soon be available in your own home. And Matthew Lang, MD of Sony South Africa tells Colin Chinery, Sony is out in front.


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he opening scene for Sony’s God of War III video game shows a muscle-bound ancient Greek warrior named Kratos vowing - “My vengeance is now!” And beating rivals is Sony South Africa’s strategy in this year of the FIFA World Cup and 3D television. 2010 is being touted as the year 3D television starts to gain penetration in the home market. With a staggering 3.4 million 3D televisions expected to be sold in the US alone this year, it’s an area manufacturers are taking very seriously, and hoping will lift depressed sales. It usually takes a number of years for a technology to penetrate everyday life. And with

many consumers happy with recent purchases of flat panel TVs, it may be some time before they are ready to upgrade. One leading store group executive expects the 3D progression to be a ‘slowburn.’ But major global sporting events like the World Cup are powerful drivers of new technology, particularly in the TV market. And says Tom Morrod, senior analyst, TV Technology at Screen Digest, Sony’s exclusive filming of World Cup matches in 3D “will certainly increase the uptake rate of 3D TVs in the home www.southafricamag.com

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People in South Africa have I would say, a very jaundiced view of customer service in general and develop the installed base earlier than would otherwise have been the case.” “For us this is very much the year of 3D television,” says Sony South Africa’s managing director Matthew Lang. “It’s the year when all the manufacturers bring 3D products to the market place and Sony really is leading this new initiative - basically because of our heritage in broadcasting.” “We’ve been working with Hollywood, major studios, film producers and in fact everyone who has been doing leading work on 3D technology development over the last decade or so. And we are leveraging that heritage at broadcast capability to head the wave of 3D to the consumers’ living room.” Sony is integratung 3D compatibility across a broad range of consumer products such as its ‘flagship’Bravia LCD TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, VAIO computers, Playstation3 consoles, digital still cameras and camcorders, providing a multitude of ways in which 3D content – from 4

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films in 3D to stereoscopic 3D games – can be enjoyed at home. And with world-wide viewers experiencing amazing 3D content from the World Cup, Sony aims to accelerate the expansion of 3D from professionals to consumers in 2010 and beyond. But while the World Cup could throw up a giant killer, 3D television’s kick off is no starting line for Joe and Jo Average. 3D TVs won’t be cheap and manufacturers are introducing them at the higher specification, high frequency end of their ranges. “We make about 5,000 products and there are technological advances in every one. The fundamental shift is the movement from analogue to digital technology,” says Matthew Lang, whose headquarters are at Midrand between Johannesburg and Pretoria. “The consumer is not particularly interested in the technology but very interested in what that product does for him. And the challenge for all technology companies is to create a simple and intuitive user experience”. English born Lang, 47, has headed his company’s South African business since 2007 in a 20 year Sony career that has taken him through Europe to Turkey and Central Asia. “We have big expectations of growth in South Africa, mainly through the emerging class, and we are doing a lot of work to grow our brand presence, strength and appeal in this segment. We are very very interested in developing the middle class market.”


Sony FEATURE

Economic recession has had an inevitable impact. “We saw enormous growth in 2008 –growing at over 50% year on year - but this growth slowed down to almost zero in 2009. We attribute this mainly to the recession but also to falling prices - there has been quite aggressive price competition in several of our product areas.” Rand fluctuations are a continual challenge. “Whether it is weak or strong is less important than the extent to which it fluctuates. We would much prefer to have a stable Rand so that our pricing is stable. When prices change quickly it’s very de-stabilising for everybody; consumer, retailer and supplier.” The Sony brand, says Lang, is “very very strong in South Africa, and this reputation has been built up over a number of years. The great starting point for Sony is that it’s the aspirational brand across nearly all the South African consumer segments. “Obviously we have to maintain that brand image, and we do this by introducing great technological innovation to our products and bringing to them what is traditionally viewed as Sony quality. “People in South Africa have, I would say, a very jaundiced view of customer service in general and are looking for quality, and I think Sony stands for quality in the eyes of the South African consumer. So it’s very important for me that we live up to that expectation.” South Africa has high hopes of the economic and publicity gains from the World Cup. So too does Sony, one of its main sponsors. “It’s very important to us. It’s hugely exciting being in South Africa at this World Cup time and we are very hopeful for the impact it’s going to have on our business,” says Matthew Lang. “Sony has negotiated with FIFA for the rights to film 25 of the World Cup matches in 3D and we are looking forward to utilising that material in show-casing our lead in the 3D world. It

gives us a tremendous opportunity to highlight and demonstrate all of our new technology but especially 3D.” For Lang the World Cup presents another and very different opportunity. “On a personal note it’s very exciting to be in South Africa because of the big social responsibility aspect of our involvement with FIFA. “Sony South Africa is giving 15,000 underprivileged South African kids the opportunity to go to World Cup matches. We are also working very hard with FIFA and with some NGO bodies - particularly street football organisations - to really bring some social responsibility into the whole World Cup and corporate environment we work in. “It’s getting very hectic and very exciting as we build up for the World Cup.”END

We have big expectations of growth in South Africa


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SA Mag - Issue 1 - SONY FEATURE