Read original story on: PC World
Yesterday at its CES press event, Sony unveiled its plan to rev up its wearables game with updates to a few existing products, including a slickly redesigned, Android Wear-powered SmartWatch 3, along with a Lifelog web client and API launch. Moreover, the company also introduced a new Smarteyeglass SDK, which may finally bring some competition to the stagnant Google Glass.
Read original story on: The Verge
Sony announced an ambitious plan to launch web-based TV service on its gaming platform PlayStation, with initial testing in NYC followed by a broad rollout set for Q1 2015. PlayStation Vue, as the service is dubbed, will cover all major broadcast and some cable networks, which distinguishes it from the majority of the OTT streaming services available right now. However, it will need to be priced appropriately in order to compete with traditional TV providers.
After a relative eternity of wait, Sony has officially released its SmartBand SWR10, an activity tracker that’s available exclusively in the US thus far. Though we got a first look at the device at CES, the March release was pushed back for unknown reasons. That said, with Apple’s redoubled efforts to put fitness tracking and health-focused, third-party app integration into the new iOS, expect further bands, apps, and devices to continue to bubble up.
Shazam Entertainment officially announced that it’s landed a series of investments from many of the world’s biggest record companies, indicating that the music industry is looking at new and different methods of keeping relevant and present. Shazam, whose latest valuation was $500 million, said that Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment are each taking $3 million stakes in Shazam, which were purchased through a third party investor. These groups all also own a stake in Spotify, and have used the platform to push artists’ streams, and thus its likely we’ll see these music groups do the same on Shazam.
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The highlight of my first day at MWC was the Sony booth where the company (an IPG client, in full disclosure) rolled out a Lifelog app companion to its new SmartBand as part of an all-encompassing approach to quantified self. Sony’s goal is to capture not only your fitness and sleep activity, but also location and all your mobile phone activity like time spent on chat apps, Facebook, Twitter, and listening to music.
All that information is plotted on a scrollable timeline that lets you see what you did hour by hour, or week be week, and the UX is top notch. The backdrop image even changes to reflect the actual weather conditions at every point on the timeline, and you can access a host of charts to get a better look at how you’ve spent your time.
The SmartBand integrates with your phone and other device in a few novel ways. For example you can control the music playing on your phone by tapping the band– one tap to skip to the next song and two to go back a song. You can even sync the wristband with your boardroom presentation and tap to scroll to the next slide– a feature compatible with any device running Android 4.4.
Lifelog comes pre-installed on the new Xperia Z2, and other Android phones can communicate with the SmartBand via either Bluetooth or NFC.
In a play to convince customers that its product is genuinely waterproof, Sony – in partnership with Draft FCB – put its latest MP3 player inside of a water bottle and sold it in vending machines in gym’s with pools. The MP3 player itself isn’t new; the issue is that most people now use their phones for MP3 playback and haven’t been buying the device itself. But by leveraging a niche crowd that would have a particular use for the product, namely swimmers, they’ve managed to make the product readily accessible in a way that appeals specifically to the target market. It’s a nifty way to take a product and thrust it forcefully into a target market.
In a move that confirms reports from earlier in the week, Sony confirmed that it is dropping its VAIO computer division, and will sell it to a Japanese investment fund. Sony cites “drastic changes in the global PC industry,” and the fact that they would prefer to focus on the mobile product lineup of smartphones and tablets. The investment fund will likely hire between 250 and 300 Sony employees to take over VAIO operations, and Sony will invest 5% of the new company’s capital. It’s a signal that, as far as the computer industry is concerned, Apple, and other Windows PCs, are rapidly cornering what’s left of the market, and that there’s still much growth to be had in the mobile and tablet industries as users continue to adopt differing screens.
When Sony CEO Kaz Hirai took the stage at CES, most people were expecting something like the Playstation Now, one of many major product announcements he made. In essence, PSNow is a cloud gaming service for TVs, consoles, and phones; the service debuted at CES where test participants were able to play The Last Of Us streamed over Wi-Fi. The service is coming to a closed Beta at the end of the month, and is expected to roll out at the end of the summer, at which point it could become a very serious competitor to Steam.
What most people weren’t expecting, however, was for Hirai to announce other cloud-based services for live TV, DVR, and Video On Demand, which is precisely what he did. It’s more ambitious than the streaming PSNow, and it looks to build out the Sony Entertainment Network in a big way, drawing consumers into a network by bolstering content and storage options, much like 4K and Streaming TV providers have done thus far at CES this year. If Sony can pull it off as well, it will certainly be a big step towards the unified Only-Sony device network that Hirai has wanted for a while now.
In a big announcement about its next-gen gaming system, Sony is opening up its PlayStation Network (PSN) Store to directly compete with Valve’s Steam software system by allowing online retailers to launch their own storefronts for PS3, PS4, and PSVita titles. Amazon already has its US PSN store up and operational, and is offering a $5 PSN credit on digital orders. So users are now in the drivers seat for finding new and improved deals, just as they were with physical copies of the games. It’s a step in the direction of consumer control, as gamers are no longer locked into Sony’s ecosystem.
Sony is taking on Apple TV, Ouya, and other boxes like Roku all at the same time with its PS Vita TV. It’s a 6 by 10 centimeter console and set-top box that connects to a TV. Based on Vita hardware, it plays Vita, PSP, and PS1 games, while offering wireless PS4 connectivity; it lets users play PS4 games on another TV screen if, say, the PS4’s screen is occupied at that given time. What’s more, it also offers video apps like Hulu, the LiveTweet Twitter client, and Reader ebook software. At $99, it looks set to take on many competitors in the set-top box environment while offering a robust gaming proposition. Thus far it’s only available in Japan, but when it comes to America it could make big waves indeed.