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Stringer: Sony's still in the hunt

Howard Stringer talks Cell, PS3, content

LAS VEGAS--Can Sony finally bring itself out of the analog century? Howard Stringer thinks so.

"We are pushing Sony faster into the digital world," Sony's CEO told a smattering of journalists at the Consumer Electronics Show here. The company that brought you the now long-dethroned Walkman and, for all too brief a stay, the Aibo robo-mutt was long divided into fiefdoms that didn't get along so well. Now it's learning how to more tightly integrate hardware, software and content for the benefit of its future product lines.

Howard Stringer
Howard Stringer

"Two years ago, you were all muttering at us for being software-illiterate," Stringer said in a rare public interview since his appearance at CES 2006 with the likes of Tom Hanks. At that time, the content Sony was pushing was The Da Vinci Code. Now, he said, "We can use content to drive the success of hardware."

In the analog era, Stringer said, it made sense for groups to work separately. Now those groups are working faster together, and every product group has its own software architect.

The Sony hardware that's on everyone's mind these days is the PlayStation 3, which the company squeaked out just in time for the holiday shopping season. Leaving aside any real details, Stringer said that the PS3 would be a vehicle for delivering other types of entertainment, nodding generally in the direction of interactivity and 3D, and that the company is looking at getting the game console's Cell processor into other products.

On the high-def DVD front, Stringer was enthusiastic about the PS3's ability to drive sales of Blu-ray products. He doesn't see much of a future for the combo player from LG Electronics, though: "I think it's an expensive way to show a universal disk player."