Sony’s TV business has been bleeding cash for the best part of a decade now, but the company insists that it’s on the verge of returning to profitability, and will do so by the end of this year.
Masahi Imamura, head of Sony’s TV division, was speaking to reporters on the eve of Sony’s television services’ metamorphosis into something called Sony Visual Products, a new business that will also incorporate some of its other products. “I’m confident,” said Imamura, in a media roundtable earlier today. “I already see profitability.”
This isn’t the first time Sony has made such claims, but the stakes seem to be higher now that it’s splitting off its TV division into a subsidiary.
As well as this bullish outlook, Imamura also confirmed that Sony’s Bravia TVs would adopt the new Android TV platform from next year. The difficulty of building its own platform makes Google’s OS an obvious choice, the executive explained.
“There’s no way Sony can develop its own new operating system,” he stated.
OLED on the cards?
While Sony remains heavily focused on 4K TVs for the forseeable future, the company hasn’t completely ruled out selling OLED TVs to compete with those offered by Korean rivals Samsung and LG Electronics.
Manufacturing OLED is far from easy but LG finally seems to be getting the hang of it, to the point where it’s even begun supplying panels to other companies. Recently, media reports have suggested that Sony might also look to LG for OLED panels. Indeed, LG Display announced plans last week to increase its production capacity for large panels to 34,000 units a month.
At the roundtable, Sony refused to confirm these rumours, but it didn’t deny them either. “Whether LG Display is our supplier or not, if an OLED panel matched our product strategy then I can’t say we wouldn’t use the technology,” said Imamura. “Right now we have no plans to invest in any OLED or LCD factory.”
Sony Visual Products officially launches today, and will be made up of around 750 employees. For CEO Kazuo Hirai, failure is not an option – a complete withdrawal from the TV business would be “unrealistic” due to the immense costs of pulling out, which means that Sony might be forced to consider an outside partnership in the event it can’t turn its fortunes around.