Live Blog: Sir Howard Stringer Keynote Address


Posted January 8, 2009 - By bleahy

I'm sitting in line for Sir Howard Stringer's keynote address at CES 2009 and I haven't had any coffee yet. Hopefully they'll let us filter in shortly, but for now I'll have to sit. Sir Howard Stringer is the Chairman and CEO of Sony and is, in fact, the cream of the crop. I won't sugar coat this, he'll probably have some announcements brewing for us. We were promised as much at Sony's press conference last night.

Also, he's British! That's kind of cool. I bet he prefers tea. Man, I really need a cup (or three) of coffee.

8:21 AM PT - Attendees are still filing into the room, but I'm already in my awesome seat. I think I punched Kaz Hirai to get up this close. I'm having some 3G card difficulties so if this live blog stops being updated just be patient. I swear the CEA uses an anti-internet field in this room. Last year I had great WiFi access for Bill Gates' final keynote until I got into this ballroom. Then it just died. It's a conspiracy against live blogging.

They are playing a bunch of hip-hop & R&B. I almost went an entire hour without hearing Lil Wayne somewhere, but Sony ruined that.

Ok, we're starting and they are showing a trailer for that new Mall Cop movie. I want popcorn now.

Okay, another trailer for Gemini Division and it was really loud. Like, painfully loud. Also, painfully generic. Pass.

Now a PSP commercial is playing showing off... games that are out or we already know about. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Madden 09, LocoRoco 2, NBA 09: The Inside, Super Stardust Portable,  LEGO Batman, Patapon 2, Buzz! Master Quiz.

8:30 AM PT - The CES intro is playing. Just a bunch of company logos and footage of random tech set to music.

8:31 AM PT - It's still playing.

8:32 AM PT - Yep, still going. It's basically advertising the event I'm already at.

8:33 AM PT - Music was provided by Jukebox the Ghost - Good Day

Now a short film with Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the CSA, super-imposed himself into old films to deliver a message about the economy. That message is: consumer electronics will revive the economy. It was done using a new service called "Yoostar", which lets people superimpose themselves into old films to make their own content.

Now he's on stage. Gary's talking about the problems that the consumer electronics industry has faced over the years and how the industry has pulled through. This is the worst economy since the Great Depression, but CE will live on.

Dang! Gary just slammed the financial institutions that took bailout money.  One guy even clapped. You go, guy!

"We are the industry that will breathe life into the economy." I think he walked into the wrong ballroom. The Adult Entertainment Expo is down the hall. In talking about past industry losses, Shapiro just name-dropped 9/11... really?

8:44 AM PT - The predicted 2008 revenue growth for consumer electronics was 6%, but the industry hit 5.4% growth. For 2009, the CEA is predicting flat revenue for the year. Gary just said that families that stay at home in the troubling economy are enjoying "staycations". *face palm*

Now he's talking about Barack Obama's message of change and how this industry also has a message of change. He called Obama the first "Digital President" and calls for him to help push the CE industry by creating open markets for American products by making new free trade agreements.

Sorry guys. The internet completely died on me there. Here's the rest of the blog:


I'm bored of this now. Can Sir Howard Stringer get on stage now? This is definitely a presentation aimed at CE executives and the CEA members, not the press.

The CEA is creating a new "Innovation Checklist" for legislators to use when they make laws:

  • Does it create jobs?
  • does it spur new technology?
  • Does it encourage the best and brightest to come to the US?
  • Does it reward risk taking?
  • Does it promote exports?
  • Will it help deploy broadband?

Also, my 3G is officially dead. So you'll be reading this after the fact. Sorry folks. I guess that's what happens when 1000 people around you are all using their 3G phones.

While I've been trying to fix my internet, Gary Shapiro has still been talking about how awesome technology is and how legislators don't understand the industry.

CES is important and is a "bright spot" in the struggling economy.

9:00 AM PT - Ok, Gary's introducing Howard Stringer now. Now a trailer for Angels & Demons. Oh, wow. It's Tom Hanks. Forrest Gump is here. He's making fun of Gary Shapiro's thrilling speach. Now he's talking about the dead formats like BetaMax and RCA that he's chosen over the years.

He just called it a Bluetooth video player! Bluetooth! It's Blu-Ray, Hanks! He's really having fun with the speach that was supposedly written by a "lowly Marketing executive" "They write the lies, but I tell the truth."

They are making him say that he finds Sony everywhere, but Tom is resisting the marketing speach. A lot. He said Bluetooth again. I hope it wasn't the marketing guy that messed that up.

9:11 AM PT - Howard Stringer is finally on stage with Tom Hanks. Stringer: "I took a risk. It failed, but we'll still be friends."

Howard and Tom have a much better stage chemistry than Bill Gates and Slash. 

9:14 AM PT - Now Howard is showing up a new set of prototype glasses that will let you watch a movie while also seeing out of the glasses. Very cool prototype and Tom is still having a great time on stage.

Ok, now Tom Hanks is being banished. I sure do wish he could stay.

9:17 AM PT - Tom's gone now. Time to get serious. Time for Sony's angle on the economy. "I can't tell you that I'm recession proof," but he believes that the industry will be fine.

Sony needs to provide consumers with a compelling user experience. Howard has 7 goals for the consumer electronics industry:

  • embrace the fusion of industries
  • adopt a service-enhanced philosophy
  • products must be multi-functional
  • Support open technologies
  • Advance the new shared experience (social, game networks)
  • Create new value chains (new tech that offers a great new UX)
    •  the purchase of an HDTV leads to the purchase of Blu-Ray and more HD content!
  • Go green

Holy buzzwords, batman!

By 2011, 90% of Sony's products will connect to the internet and each other.

2008's World Firsts: 240Hz HDTV, world's slimmest LCD HDTV, Bravia Internet Video Network streaming Hancock before it was available on DVD.

Howard's got the new "Wi-Fi CyberShot camera", which will let users use 10,000 AT&T hot-spots around the country through 2012. It will also be able to send photos to new networked Bravia televisions. This camera is now available at select Sony Style stores for an "extraordinarily reasonable price." Then he rolled his eyes.

Whoa, Sony is releasing a device with Chumby technology that looks like a digital picture frame. It surfaces a music video from Bruce Springsteen through a Pandora-like service. This is definitely a step-up from the Chumby device. It shows a soccer score and then plays a selected clip. Ok, I want this. Since it uses Chumby technology, it's open-source.

OLED time. Flex OLED. Sony's got a bendable screen prototype as well. Yep, it's bendable, but the picture isn't that great from my seat. It was rather small, as well.

Sony is the #1 company selling HD products. Time to talk about Blu-Ray. Sony Blu-Ray players account for 50% of those sold. Sales of Blu-Ray discs are up 400% over the previous year. In an age of network downloads, why is Blu-Ray important?

Oh, hey! John Lasseter from Pixar is here to talk about Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray allows Pixar to show people their movies the way they make them in the offices. "We sweat over every tiny detail at Pixel and finally the consumer can see them." He shows a clip from WALL-E to show this off. Also, the remastered Blu-Ray of Sleeping Beauty will utilize BD Live to theme the main menu based on the time and weather of the viewers current location. It's a neat feature, but certainly not groundbreaking.

John also mentioned that Blu-Ray will eventually bring 3D home. Pixar's new movie "Up" will also be available in 3D.  Now we get an exclusive clip of "Up". Love that Pixar. In the spirit of the upcoming Toy Story 3, Toy Story 1 & 2 will be getting 3D versions later this year.

9:42 AM PT - PlayStation 3 time. "One of the reasons Blu-Ray won the format war last year." As of October 2008, Sony has a 61.3 Million Install Base of PS3 and PSP.

Kaz Hirai is up on stage now. PSN stats:

More than 330 million content downloads. 17 million accounts. 2.1 million accounts in the most recent months. This is less than Microsoft's recent additions, but still a good number.

Time to talk about LittleBigPlanet. 1.3 million unique users in LBP. More than 300,000 levels. Playing 24/7, you can play LBP content for 2 straight years. The person playing behind Kaz keeps dying.

Now it's time to talk about Sony Online Entertainment. FreeRealms, a new free MMO community, will launch aimed at teens, tweens, and families. It will release first on the PC and then eventually on the PS3.

MTV Networks is now partnering with Sony to deliver 2,000 hours of video entertainment to the PSN.

Now, showing off Life. More than 2 million users have downloaded the application already. A new version is hopefully set to launch this Spring.

Time for PlayStation Home. More than 3.4 million users have downloaded Home with microtransactions over $1 million so far. EA is now on board to create a new place online for gamers with 3 minigames including Texas Hold Em tables and a racing game. More like what'd I'd like to see out of Home.

Kaz admits that its not just hardware that wins. It needs software and content as well and he believes Sony is uniquely suited for this challenge.

9:55 AM PT - Dr. Oz is getting a new television show in Fall 09. He's here. As I've never watched Oprah, I don't really care about this dude. Suddenly, I'm at a self-help seminar. He's talking about how we all need to lose weight and I'm going to try and fix my 3G again. Nope. Nothing.

10:02 AM PT - Sony is the exclusive CE partner of the New York Yankees and will be all over the new Yankee Stadium. They'll even put PlayStation 3's in the hotel suites. Oh, hey, it's Yankee Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. He's looking forward to all the new technology that will be shown off in the new stadium. Cool to see Reggie.

It's still going, but I had to leave in order to get this blog up and get to my next appointment. You'll be able to watch the whole thing later and I recommend that you do. Tom Hanks is worth the price of admission.


Live Blog: Sir Howard Stringer Keynote Address


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