Everyone's talking about Apple's TV plans, tantalised by the revelation in the Steve Jobs biography that the former Apple boss said he'd “finally cracked” the TV concept shortly before his death last month.
But Sony has its own grand plans for TV that tap into the full breadth of its strength as an electronics brand and tie together what Sony calls its “four screen strategy” for the future.
The three-screen concept is nothing new – the idea that consumer electronics is focused around three screen-based devices – a TV, a computer and a mobile device like a phone. The arrival of the tablet creates a fourth category, though we're not sure it qualifies as a fourth rather than a combination of two of the existing three. But anyway.
The point is Sony is feeling pretty bullish now that it's agreed to buy out Ericsson's part of Sony Ericsson, and believes that having hands-on involvement in all of the four screen markets will give it the edge in creating exciting new concepts that will drive the market forward.
“There’s a tremendous amount of R&D going into a different kind of TV set,” Sony boss Sir Howard Stringer told the Wall Street Journal this week.
Stringer clearly agrees with Jobs' theory that the existing idea of television is overdue for re-invention, saying a new formula that gets things right was “what we’re all looking for”.
“We can’t continue selling TV sets [the way we have been]. Every TV set we all make loses money,” Stringer added.
And with such fierce competition in the TV market, and most of the leading brands stuck in a tight product development cycle that effectively forces them to push forward in small evolutionary steps every 12 months, clearly the only way to change the current model is to break it completely.
That's obviously what Jobs had in mind, and what Apple is working on right at this minute. As with all Apple creations, we're pretty much in the dark as to the details, but most agree that the Siri voice-control tech will play a fairly central role.
But Stringer says Sony is even further down that same road already. He claims he has “spent the last five years building a platform so I can compete against Steve Jobs”.
Ready when you are, Sir H.