Sony to distribute 4K-quality movies online to TV buyers

June 15, 2013


Sony Corp. plans to distribute superfine, 4K-resolution movies online exclusively for customers of its next-generation televisions, President and CEO Kazuo Hirai said.

Speaking to The Asahi Shimbun on June 14, Hirai also said Sony plans to make a full-scale foray into the U.S. smartphone market by the end of the current fiscal year next March.

He said Sony's 4K-quality film distribution services are scheduled to start in the United States this summer.

"We hope to begin similar services in Japan after identifying any areas in need of improvement," Hirai added. He declined to specify a start date.

The term 4K refers to an image quality standard with a horizontal resolution of 3,840 pixels and a vertical resolution of 2,160 pixels. The total pixel count is quadruple that of current high-definition TV broadcasts. State-of-the-art digital projectors in movie theaters are also adapted to the 4K standard.

Hirai said he sees the new film distribution services as a key weapon for increasing sales of 4K TVs. Most of the works on offer will be titles from Sony Pictures, and users will need dedicated receivers to subscribe to the services, Hirai added.

To stem the losses from its TV division, Sony is refraining from selling its TVs at low prices, even at the cost of reduced sales figures. The division's annual sales volume fell from 22 million units two years ago to 13.5 million units in the last fiscal year.

Hirai attributed Sony's defeat to South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. in the TV business to a difference in overall product value, calculated as a combination of costs, features and design.

"Falling costs have since ramped up our product value," Hirai said. "We hope to sell 16 million units this fiscal year, and use that as a springboard for an all-out offensive."

On a different front, Hirai indicated that talks are under way for supplying smartphones to a major telecommunications carrier in the United States, where Sony has never made a notable footprint in cellphone sales.

"We will carve a foothold in the United States within the coming six months or one year to ramp up our market share in phases," Hirai said.

Sony considers cellphones operations one of its new core businesses.

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Kazuo Hirai (Photo by Kazuo Yamamoto)

Kazuo Hirai (Photo by Kazuo Yamamoto)

  • Kazuo Hirai (Photo by Kazuo Yamamoto)

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