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Sony working on a 'different kind of TV set'

Sony CEO Howard Stringer says his company is spending boatloads of cash on a television that's unlike any other on the market.

Will Sony challenge an Apple television?
Will Sony challenge an Apple television? Apple

Apple isn't the only company thinking seriously about reinventing the television, Sony CEO Howard Stringer has revealed.

According to the Sony chief executive, who spoke yesterday with The Wall Street Journal, his company has a "tremendous amount of research and development going into a different kind of TV set." Stringer declined to provide details on what his company's television might offer.

For Stringer and Sony, the stakes are high in the television business. Over the last several quarters, his company's television operation has continued to drag down earnings, due to Sony losing money on every TV it sells, according to Stringer. Those losses have prompted some Sony shareholders to call on the company to spin off its television operation.

However, Sony has balked at the idea, deciding instead to split its operation into three units focusing on LCD TVs, outsourcing operations, and next-generation TVs. And based on Stringer's comments, it appears much of his company's investment dollars are being thrown at that next-generation TV unit.

If and when Sony brings a "different kind of TV set" to the marketplace, it may be forced to face off with Apple.

Last month, speculation arose that Apple was planning to launch a television of its own after it was revealed in Steve Jobs' authorized biography that the company co-founder was working on plans to launch an Apple-branded set.

"I'd like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use," Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson. "It would be seamlessly synched with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it."

But Stringer doesn't believe Apple will break into the television space with a new idea so easily, telling the Journal that "it will take a long time to transition to a new form of television."