Sony and Apple are set to compete in a new space - televisions - as both technology giants are working on their own next-generation connected television sets.
There's a tremendous amount of R&D going into a different kind of TV set, the Japanese company's Chief Executive, Howard Stringer, said, at a breakfast hosted by the Wall Street Journal.
On the other side of the fence, the late Steve Jobs was believed to have been working on a revolutionary television model that would, reportedly, integrate Siri, the iPhone 4S' voice-enabled assistant.
A full-blown Apple Smart TV is therefore in the works, according to Steve Jobs' recently released biography, which reveals that Jobs wanted to create a television with a simple user interface and rescue consumers from a multiplicity of confusing remotes.
It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine, and I finally cracked it, Jobs reportedly told Isaacson.
Stringer hasn't denied any such reports either and said he had no doubt Jobs was working on transforming the traditional television set. However, he did say it could take a long time (for Apple) to transition to a new form of television.
The market has been speculating for years that Apple could make a full-fledged television and there were reports that Apple Smart TV, also called iTV, was already flowing through factories over in China, in early stage pilot and prototype production.
Jefferies, a global securities and investment banking group, believes Apple will launch a new video-focused and cloud-based service called iTV, in the second calendar half of 2012. Analyst Peter Misek suggested that recent checks point to further confirmation that an iTV launch is planned for, with initial builds of 5 million to 10+ million.
As far as Sony is concerned, the company was once a leader in the television market. Today, however, it has become something of a thorn in its side, due to lower shipments, declining prices. In addition, the company's Internet TV, running on Google's Android platform, has also struggled to gain traction. For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the company's revenue from television sales fell 18 percent to 214 billion yen.
On Nov. 2, Sony announced some reorganization measures for its television division; the aim was to cut in half its operating losses in this division by fiscal 2012 and restore profitability by fiscal 2013. As a result, the company revised its expected global unit sales to 20 million in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012 (fiscal 2011) and expects to incur additional charges of about 50 billion yen. Following this realignment, Sony expects to record sales of 875 billion yen and an operating loss of 175 billion yen in fiscal 2011.
We can't continue selling TV sets [the way we have been]. Every TV set we all make loses money, Stringer said to WSJ.
Though details of specifications for Sony's new television were scarce, Stringer did say that the company had a four-screen strategy, of offering network services on mobile phones, tablet computers, personal computers and TV sets.
I spent the last five years building a platform so I can compete against Steve Jobs, Stringer said, It's finished, and it's launching now.