Technology

'Our aim is to see that India is a top 5 market for us in 2 years' : Sony chairman, CEO and president Sir Howard

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Sony Corporation expects India to be among its top five markets by sales in the next two years.

Betting big on 3D, Sony chairman, CEO and president Sir Howard Stringer is targeting 30 per cent of its India sales to come from 3D products by 2012.

The first non-Japanese head of Sony feels that the company needs to improve its broadcasting business in India and build synergies across all its verticals.

Stringer was in Mumbai to inaugurate Sony Media Technology Centre (SMTC) in association with Whistling Woods International (WWI), Indiantelevision.com‘s Ashwin Pinto unravels Stringer‘s plans in India.

Excerpts:

India only forms three per cent of Sony‘s global sales of around $88 billion. How do you explain this, given the large consumer base here?

While this is true, our aim is to see that India is a top five market for us in the next two years. Year on year we have experienced a 50 per cent growth in turnover. Our commitment is to establish a strong brand here.

We were not quick to come here with all the facets of our business. Twelve years back, India was not a focus market for us. You have to remember that our television sets have premium margins; they are expensive.

Now as India‘s economy has grown, Indian consumers are getting aspirational for our products. You can only be as big as the market is. We expect solid growth in the coming four years.

Is it fair to say then that India has become very important for Sony?

Yes! When it comes to entertainment, we love India. We are trying to cash in on our success. We are the No. 1 consumer electronics brand here.

On the television front, we do the IPL. Our film studio has had great success here. Everything that we do works here. The size of the Indian film industry is why India is so important. We have a good relationship here.

A few years back, we started building infrastructure for 3D; digital cinema has helped us grow here and in other markets. Being in this industry is like no other. This is a wonderful business to be in.

Are you confident that 3D will penetrate here?

Yes! India will adopt 3D faster due to the size and scale of the film industry. People said that I should not tie my career in with 3D. However, I have never doubted this medium. 3D is not about special effects; it is about capturing the reality around us.

Avatar focused a lot on special effects and the story was secondary. That is why I think that it lost the Best Picture Oscar.

However now what you are seeing is that the technology is being integrated with the storyline. On television, it will be a feature but not everything needs to be in 3D. For instance, you would not want to see Gadaffi in 3D. We have a channel 3D Net. Sony Pictures Imageworks made Alice In Wonderland. 3D is an art form. Sony is home to engineers and film directors working on this technology.

From a revenue standpoint, what difference is 3D making to Sony?

It is becoming an important avenue with home video sales declining. You can charge a premium on tickets. Of course, there are films that are not good and so 3D will not work there. However if the product is good, then it offers a premium.

What content is coming from Sony in 3D?

The Smurfs is coming in 3D. Spiderman 4 is currently being shot. We are present across the spectrum of 3D. Last year, Hollywood made 40 films in 3D. By 2013, you will see 120 films using this technology. 3D is actually growing faster than HD.

We were not quick to come to India with all the facets of our business. Now as India‘s economy has grown, Indian consumers are getting aspirational for our products. You can only be as big as the market is. We expect solid growth in the coming four years

What is the size of the 3D market?

In India, we have a 60 per cent share of 3D related products. Sony‘s target is that 30 per cent of India sales will come from 3D products by 2012.

We launched 3D LCDs last year in India. More 3D capable products will be launched by us, one after the other.

Globally, we are targeting sales of more than $12 billion for the current fiscal from 3D products. This includes consumer and professional products and games.

There has been criticism that the 3D experience at home is not good. Your views?

I do not agree. With high quality glasses, 3D becomes a riveting experience. We haven‘t had complaints about our products. The problem, though, is there is a lack of awareness about 3D.

I have seen stores abroad where 3D TV sets are on display, but the glasses are not offered. So the picture is fuzzy and unclear. We test our 3D by seeing how many consumers can view it at a time. 3D is not a fad. At the moment you cannot view 3D glassless, but it will come in at some point in time.

How did the collaboration with Whistling Woods International come about?

Through the new initiative, we can learn from each other. This was not a hard choice. We have been impressed by their staff and use of technology.

Whistling Woods International is a mirror of the American Film Institute (AFI), of which I am the chairman. We have a film studio and Whistling Woods International is a great school. We want to create a new world of Indian filmmaking.

The Sony Media Technology Centre (SMTC) is the result of an on-going conversation. It is one of just three facilities we have globally. The others are in Hollywood and in the UK.

The facility will provide a forum for us to offer our latest high definition and 3D technologies. We will be able to share Sony‘s expertise in 3D content creation with aspiring filmmakers and industry professionals. We aim to enhance and develop India‘s entertainment industry by popularising HD and 3D content creation.

SMTC continues an effort started a year back with the opening of the first Sony 3D Technology Centre in Los Angeles where over a 1000 industry professionals have visited and trained to date.

What is the investment being made here?

We are investing $4.5 million in this centre. Sony has installed HD and 3D content creation and digital cinema projection equipment in Whistling Woods International. Sony will also provide its knowhow in HD content creation from acquisition to post -production of content. The 3D market will grow and we know that creation of high quality 3D content is essential to this growth.

As a filmmaker ,you have to know what you are doing all the time. That is because your work is out there for everybody to see. India produces more films than any country. Your films are seen in 80-90 countries globally. As you migrate towards the latest technologies and go digital, the Indian film industry will be able to go global. Digital allows you to be both national and international.

As a filmmaker ,you have to know what you are doing all the time. That is because your work is out there for everybody to see. India produces more films than any country. Your films are seen in 80-90 countries globally. As you migrate towards the latest technologies and go digital, the Indian film industry will be able to go global. Digital allows you to be both national and international.

SMTC continues an effort started a year back with the opening ofustry professionals have visited and trained to date.

What is the investment being made here?

We are investing $4.5 million in this centre. Sony has installed HD and 3D content creation and digital cinema projection equipment in Whistling Woods International. Sony will also provide its knowhow in HD content creation from acquisition to post -production of content. The 3D market will grow and we know that creation of high quality 3D content is essential to this growth.

As a filmmaker ,you have to know what you are doing all the time. That is because your work is out there for everybody to see. India produces more films than any country. Your films are seen in 80-90 countries globally. As you migrate towards the latest technologies and go digital, the Indian film industry will be able to go global. Digital allows you to be both national and international.

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