Sony Tablet To Launch In September
Sony´s first launch into the tablet field, set for September 17, has failed to pique the interest of gadget reviewers and analysts who criticized the pricing and quality of the new device, potentially undermining the tech company´s aim to regain its status as a top consumer electronics producer.
Sony Corp, looking to carve itself out a niche in the lucrative tablet field, will launch two versions of its tablet: a $499 version, and a $599 model. The prices are equivalent to 2 of the lower-end Apple iPad models.
Analysts say that with the new tablet, Sony will remain just another “also-produced” rather than a leader in the tablet field. Sony´s contender will probably also have a hard time even catching up with Samsung´s GalaxyTab, the No. 2 tablet in the market.
Both Apple´s iPad and Samsung´s GalaxyTab have been on the market for a year or more and have established themselves as powerful competitors in the tablet race. Sony said Thursday it aims to give iPad a run for its money.
“Consumers want tablets, but they are not prepared to pay the same amount they’d pay for an iPad for something that’s not an iPad,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with research firm Gartner. “Despite the brand and different design, with its pricing so close to the iPad, it will be challenging for Sony.”
Sony was once a high-tech giant, producing such popular technical wonders as the Walkman and PlayStation gaming console, has been struggling to maintain its status as it has been losing money in the TV market, forcing it to venture into new areas looking to make a comeback.
“Sony really must be in the tablet market and must succeed,” said Mito Securities electronics analyst Keita Wakabayashi.
The Sony Tablet will be powered by Google´s Android software, allowing users to download content such as books, movies and games. The Tablet “S” series will have a 9.4-inch touchscreen display with 16gb of data storage for $499 or 32gb for $599.
The tablet will stand out from other Android players by offering a feature allowing users to access some first generation PlayStation games.
It will also have access to Sony´s cloud of online content such as movies, music, books and other entertainment. Sony has focused more now on pushing its content through hardware platforms including consoles, smartphones and tablet computers.
The “P” series will have a folded design, incorporating two 5.5-inch screens, and is slated for a future launch in the US and Europe.
Despite all the features and Sony´s exclusive content offerings, analysts remain skeptical that the tech giant will come out smelling like roses with its new devices.
Sony CEO Howard Stringer brushed off concerns that the company waited too long to jump into the tablet market.
“We want to prove it’s not who makes it first that counts but who makes it better,” he told AFP.
But based on initial reception, Sony has failed in that regard.
Tech reviewers applauded Sony for coming up with a unique curvy design for its S tablet, which can be easily held with one hand, but the quality of the hardware was questionable.
Gizmodo tech blog called the tablet “extremely plasticky” and said its screen scratched more easily than other tablets.
And research firm Forrester posted a blog stating that Sony´s pricing “raises a red flag.”
During a low-key launch of the tablets in Tokyo on Thursday, Sony said it could be flexible with pricing if need be.
“We’ll see and study how the market will react and we’ll take any necessary action,” said Hideyuki Furumi, deputy president of the Sony division in charge of the new tablets.
“But then again, we don’t want to do competition simply on prices, because we have a lot of differentiation points,” he added, saying entertainment features would be expanded over time.
Tim Stevens, editor-in-chief of the Engadget tech blog, said the tablet’s hardware was uninteresting and its feel and design trailed the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab. “I honestly don’t think this is going to be the tablet that really catapults Sony into the lead on the Android front, which is where it needs to be if it wants to be No. 2 in the tablet market,” he said.
Sony vowed in January to become the world’s No. 2 tablet maker by 2012 and Sony executives stuck to that ambitious claim ahead of the tablet launch.
But with numerous tech companies stumbling to grab shares in a market that has been dominated by Apple´s iPad, Sony may find itself in the same position, especially with the host of negative reviews tied to the upcoming tablet.
Sony touts its S tablet as unique because of its features and believes it will have better luck than other tablet makers. One feature the company´s tablet is boasting is a universal remote feature buried inside the tablet that can allow the device to control stereos, cable boxes, televisions and other devices.
Plus, Sony´s vast entertainment library that will be available for the tablets should also give it an edge over its rivals, according to Stringer.
“Apple makes an iPad, but does it make a movie?” he said.
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