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Sony to start selling 3-D TVs in June

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 10:30pm
TOMOKO A. HOSAKA - Associated Press Writer - Associated Press

Sony Corp. said Tuesday it will start selling 3-D televisions in June, joining a competitive industrywide push to convince consumers to embrace the technology for their living rooms.

The Japanese electronics giant, known for its PlayStation 3 game consoles and Bravia flat-screen TVs, will offer its fully capable 3-D TV model in four sizes this summer.

The 40-inch and 46-inch versions will go on sale on June 10 in Japan, while the 52- and 60-inch TVs will be available starting July 16.

Although the company did not release a global launch date, Sony Senior Vice President Yoshihisa Ishida said the new TVs will hit stores in the U.S. and other countries around the same time.

The 40-inch 3-D will cost about 290,000 yen ($3,200), and the biggest 60-inch will retail at 580,000 yen ($6,400).

Included are two pairs of Sony's 3-D glasses, as well as a camera sensor on each unit that will adjust sound and picture quality based on viewers' positions. A remote control button enables the switch from a regular 2-D image to 3-D.

Sony hopes that 10 percent of the 25 million TVs it aims to sell next fiscal year will be 3-D units.

CEO Howard Stringer has said the Tokyo-based company aims to be profitable in flat-panel TVs and gaming next fiscal year, and is pushing 3-D technology as a key strategy. Interest in 3-D has accelerated recently with the help of three-dimensional blockbusters such as "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland," which earned a record $116.3 million in its opening weekend.

Ishida described the current fiscal year that began last April as a difficult period that forced Sony to focus on restructuring and reversing losses.

"We will go on the offensive in 2010," he said at a press conference in Tokyo.

But the same rivals that Sony has struggled against in recent years, such as South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co., are making similar bets in 3-D and other technologies.

Samsung, the world's best-selling TV maker, began selling 3-D units in South Korea last month and aims to move 2 million worldwide this year. Panasonic Corp. is partnering with Best Buy Co. to fuel sales of its own 3D TVs, which launch in the U.S. on Wednesday.

To stand out, Sony plans to exploit its strengths in entertainment, gaming and other products to offer customers a broad selection of 3-D content. The company will release a firmware update to its PlayStation 3 console this summer, making three-dimensional gaming a reality.

"By strengthening the relationships between our content and other products, we aim to create a uniquely Sony world," Ishida said.

Sony will offer two additional, lower-priced models with 3-D functionality. Customers, however, will need to buy a transmitter and 3-D glasses separately. The transmitter will cost 5,000 yen ($55) and the glasses about 12,000 yen ($133).

In trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Sony shares rose 1.1 percent to 3,330 yen, beating a 0.2 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei 225 index.

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