Sony CEO Howard Stringer has seven imperatives for providing the ultimate consumer experience. And, perhaps more importantly, seven signals of where he wants to take his conglomerate:
2. Adopt a service enhanced philosophy. “Consumers now assess the value of our products based on the the quality of the experience based on service.”
3. Products must be multi-functional so consumers can access, manage, and organize many different types of products and sources of content
4. Support open technologies. “Open technologies are winning the game. Closed systems are being disinermediated. Consumer expect choice, they expect services work with any divide.”
5 Enhance the share experienced. “Social networks, game networks, open worlds are fundamentally changing our society. Devices must enable these shared experiences.”
6. Create new value chains. “New technology that offers overwhelmingly better user experiences can create new value chains. Example: High definition. The purchase of a new TV leads to the purchase of a Blu-ray player, sound system, camera, movies and games.”
7. Go green.
Sony Corp.'s CEO didn't much mention his company's ongoing problems, from slow electronics sales amidst a recession to the struggles of the Playstation 3 against the Wii and Xbox 360. Coming after a speech from Consumer Electronic Assn. president Gary Shapiro in which the trade group chief predicted the industry will contract .6% this year, it was certainly the hottest question.
Instead Stringer made only brief mention of the immense challenges he faces. "I wish I could tell you im recession proof," he noted near the top of his 90 minute-plus address (which had many in the audience starting to flee by the hour mark). "I can't bring you immediate news of a turnaround. I can promise you the CE industry will ultimately prevail."
There was little in the way hot how new products announcements or grand strategic moves. The only major pronouncement Stringer made was that by 2011, over 90% of Sony's products will connect wirelessly to the Internet and each other.
Instead he went through a number of Sony product lines, explaining how they fit his seven pronouncements. Those include TVs, videogames, Blu-ray discs and player, and cameras
There were several products in the works previewed by Stringer that wowed the crowd. Those included a paper thin, flexible, hi-def display screen and a wi-fi alarm clock that accesses new music, weather, news, video, and pretty much everything you could want in the morning.
In an attempt to spice things up, Stringer's keynote was celeb packed, starting with a hilarious Tom Hanks, who was on hand to promote next summer's Sony Pictures release "Angels and Demons" but spent most of his time mercilessly mocking the telemprompted speech written for him, as he put it, "by a lowly Sony marketing executive."
While regularly making fun of the fact that he was supposed to claim he used Sony products in every possible aspect of his life, Hanks got his biggest laugh when delivering a line about how he likes to read books. "I download books onto my reader. The Kind– uh, I mean, the Sony Reader. Which is a fine product in its own right."
At another point, he was rattling off all the different Sony products he allegedly sees while at work: "I show up on set and I see the name on the camera: Sony… Really? I have yet to see that. Hey, they write the lines, I tell the truth."
Stringer took it all in stride when he joined Hanks a few minutes later. "I took a risk. It failed."
Other celebs who stopped in included Disney Animation guru John Lasseter, who promoted Blu-ray; DreamWorks Animation topper Jeffrey Katzenberg, who Stringer intro'd as "the John the Batist of digital 3-D" and, naturally, talked about how Sony digital projects help with the new filmmaking technology his company has adopted; Reggie Jackson (Sony is the exclusive technology provider at the new Yankee Stadium); Usher, just because he's a popular singer; and Dr. Mehmet Oz, Oprah's pal who has his own syndicated show coming this fall and put a tape measure around Sir Howard's waist.
The result: 39". But he was definitely sucking it in.