Don’t look for Sony’s iPad killer any time soon

May 21, 2010


Don’t expect to see Sony’s response to Apple’s iPad tablet computer any time soon.

We talked to Sony Chief Executive Howard Stringer, who was in town to discuss the unveiling of Google TV, theĀ  initiative that marries the Web to television. Stringer was very excited about that product, which will appear first in Sony TVs later this year, giving the electronics maker a head start against what is expected to be a future filled with Internet-enabled TVs. While noting that Sony’s digital book reader product sales are still strong, he seemed much less thrilled about any iPad-killer plans for Sony, maker of the popular Vaio line of computers.

Everybody’s now making one aren’t they? Tablets, tablets, as far as the eye can see.

We have to find a way to make it cost competitive. Apple’s brilliance is always to make a relationship with an operator or someone to pay a significant part of it. That’s something we haven’t been successful at. Even with Google and Sony Ericsson, we are still working on relationships with operators.

We have got to master all of that before we simply launch yet another unprofitable product onto the marketplace.

Stringer’s comments come after Sony’s CFO earlier in the year said that the company aims to launch new products that will vie with Apple’s iPad, and has the necessary technology, but added “there is no denying that we are running a bit behind.”

A Sony representative confirmed that while Sony is studying the tablet PC market, it has “no concrete plans at this time to come to market with such a product.”

(Photo: Sir Howard Stringer at the introduction of Google TV in San Francisco)

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Sony was Apple’s original partner in making the Powerbook. With the advent of Mac OS X, it might have been good for VAIO to run more than Microsoft OS but that’s all water under the bridge now. The thing Sony has never wanted to get tied up in is complex hardware user support, but now sees the pathway toward monetizing its content repertoire, of which it has tons.

No wonder Howard’s excited about Google TV. The future of asynchronously consumable pop culture depends on how, or rather how quickly, this entirely new business model pans out. When their VAIO series accommodates G-TV on an OS to match, Sony stands to do rather nicely. Not to mention Google.

Or did I just mention Google?

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