Sony programs competing event

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2004-09-23 Print this article Print

to focus on Qualia"> Sony held a dueling event Wednesday night; this one focused on the new 1000-square-foot Qualia showroom carved out of the Style stores basement space. With a more exclusive, and decidedly hipper celebrity-wannabe crowd, Sonys event focused on the companys ultra-luxury digital lineup. Focusing on ultra-high end components, easy-to-use interfaces and super-inflated prices, the Qualia line brings the Louis Vuitton sheen to digital products. Featuring $3000 2-megapixel cameras that appeared to take amazingly crisp photos, along with ultra-high-end headphones designed for Super Audio CDs and a 46-inch LCD flat-panel television, the products themselves were stunning.
The HD-resolution TV, coupled with a Blu-ray DVD player, was particularly amazing. Alas, the 1920-by-1080-pixel display and source were marred by compression artifacts, particularly on some of the water screens. Still, the colors and apparent 3-D were stunning, especially because this was an LCD and not a plasma.
Sony has hired a staff of luxury goods experts to provide personal demonstrations of the luxury digital products to well-heeled customers. The staffer I talked with studied at one of the finest business schools in Paris, with a focus on managing luxury goods brands. He was both well-versed in the ins and outs of the product, and focused on how an ultra-high-end product line can add luster to the rest of a companys brands. Why throw a competing event on the same day as upstart Samsung? "Thats a question for Samsung," said Phil Boyle, Qualias product marketing manager, intimating that they had set their date before the Korean company. Samsung had not responded to requests for comment by the time this article was published. The two events highlighted the differences between the two global rivals. Samsungs effort seemed to say "Ive arrived" as a high-quality provider of stylish and technically advanced digital convergence devices. Sony, on the other hand, seemed to be changing the rules of the game by offering somewhat advanced technology at super-inflated prices. How successful will the two be? With its premier location on the third floor of Manhattans first luxury mall, Samsungs store should be a hit. The path to success for Sonys Qualia has more twists. As one attendee lamented, "If you buy a super-expensive car and park it out front, you might get noticed by the girls. A tiny $3,500 digital camera just aint going to get you (noticed)." But clearly theres a fairly large audience of people in the United States with more money than taste. And according to Boyle, he cant make enough of some of his Qualia products, including some of the high-end HD screens. The products are certainly stunning. But is that enough? Check out eWEEK.coms Retail Center at for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on retail.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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