Sony programs competing event
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.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 http://retail.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on retail.
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.