Sony is expected to approve a plan to invest around $642 million (50 billion yen) in Olympus. As the Japanese manufacturer of cameras, optics and reprography products is currently facing a trial for having hidden investment losses for the past 20 years, it has been looking for a potential investor for months. By injecting that capital investment, Sony will become the largest shareholder.
After rumors of a Panasonic investment in June, Reuters confirmed from three different sources that Sony and Olympus are ready to announce an investment that would represent 10 percent of the capital.
Olympus reported a net loss of $630 million (49 billion yen) for the last fiscal year, mainly due to wrong financial decisions and the repercussions of the past scandalous affair. Today, the company and three former high-ranking executives pleaded guilty. Over a couple of decades, around $1.7 billion of losses were faked.
Olympus announced in June that it would cut 2,700 jobs and scrap 40 percent of its factories in order to reduce costs. Last quarter, the company reported a 60 percent drop in operating profit.
With that investment, Sony will become the largest shareholder, and the two companies will create a new business unit focused on medical equipment. As a brand-new market for Sony, it is a way to diversify its revenue.
Yet, last quarter, despite $19.2 billion in sales, Sony’s operating profit was down 77 percent to only $79 million. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Sony, as well, which could make investment more difficult in the future.
As Vic Gundotra said in another situation, “two turkeys do not make an eagle.” When it comes to Japanese investments, they are often hard to understand for a foreigner. Two companies following a downward trend won’t find an easy solution by partnering. It remains to be seen if they can now focus on producing innovative new products.
While our bodies approach beach-readiness for the summer, Sony‘s unveiled plans to tinker with your gym playlist in the future. According to a patent granted today, the electronics manufacturer aims to closely tie the tempo of your music to your own physical exertions. It’ll do this by using a nefarious-sounding (but ultimately vague) “exercise information analyzing circuit” that will pick up on tempo differences between the user and their favorite Pendulum tracks. It will then change the “music data” for something a little more fitting for your 10-minute trudge at 10 percent incline. The patent’s sketches include the idea of personalized profiles for users, and displaying what you got done at the end of the session, broken down by tempo and duration. The technology could end up in PMPs or phones, although we reckon the latter has more legs. Give your legalese its own workout and peruse the laborious wording of another patent filing at the source below
We knew Sony’s next batch of Google TV-enabled hardware was coming this summer, and now at least one device is up for pre-order at J&R. Folks who’ve been wanting the Android-based service without shelling out for a full TV set from the company will now only need to part with $200 for its NSZ-GS7 Network Media Player. The unit comes complete with an updated remote featuring a QWERTY keyboard, motion control, a microphone (for “voice commands”) and a touchpad, and it’s said to work with most of Sony’s 2012 TV lineup. There still seems to be no word on this streaming box’s exact specs, a ship date or when you’ll be able to snag its Blu-Ray touting sibling, but you can hit the source link to secure one for yourself in the meantime. Here’s to watching whether it’ll muster up more gusto for the platform than Logitech’s Revue, once it’s planted consumers’ AV racks.
By and large Sony’s wrist-born Android info center, the SmartWatch, has given enough utility to end up on a few of our wrists. Connecting to any Android 2.1 or higher smartphone via Bluetooth, the device has a capacitive screen for input and acts as a notifier for calls, messages or social networks. With a new SDK under its belt, it also supports 60 apps so far including an open-source music player and eight new games. Now you can grab one for $149.97 at Verizon Wireless’ online or brick and mortar stores, along with accessories for it like extra straps and chargers. So if you’ve been looking for a way to stay on top of your social life at a glance, find your phone when it gets lost — or even just check the time, believe it or not — hit the source link below for more info.
Sony has decided to join the web-based shopping party, launching an online reader store for its e-inked devices and companion apps. Any e-Books purchased will arrive ready-to-read on the Reader app or other suitably wireless device, with titles also working on any Adobe DRM-supported apps and devices. Sony’s Reader app has benefited from a UI redesign, the addition of a landscape view and improved stability. Hit up the source to grab the update — before your phone tells you to.
Last night, we caught a demo of PlayStation’s new Wonderbook during the company’s E3 press event. Today, we grabbed a few moments of hands-on time with the new PS Move peripheral at the Sony booth. As we learned last night, the first title for the new tech is a collaborative effort with J.K. Rowling, entitledBook of Spells. The kit makes use of an augmented reality book in tandem with the Move hardware to project images and animations (basically the game itself) right on the pages. Consisting of only six spreads (12 pages), the software will track your progression through the chapters, and beginning a new quest simply means heading to back to the front of the book. We got a closer look (free from last night’s demo fail), so have a peep at the gallery below and head on past the break for some impressions.
Update: We’ve added a video of the hands-on just beyond the break for your viewing pleasure.
Wonderbook acts as an interactive text of sorts, as players learn lessons and spells in each chapter before having their knowledge tested and moving on. The PS Move project images and animation onto the surface of the book, and you’re also able to move it around quite a bit to catch some alternate viewing angles of the action. In addition to using the controller as your wand, you’ll also encounter scenarios where you’ll need to brush sand off the AR surface or put a fire out with just your hands.
As we mentioned above, we didn’t encounter any lag or hiccups during the course of our session withBook of Spells this time around. Game play was smooth and the added use of the Wonderbook played along quite nicely with the existing Move hardware. We were told that while this sort of sorcery education is at the forefront right now, the intent is to bring more real-life learning opportunities for the Wonderbook in the future — dinosaurs were even mentioned. For now, though, we’re left to wonder what more the tech will offer our living rooms upon its arrival.
We didn’t spot it on stage during the pre-E3 2012 press conference, but Sony’s PlayStation Blog is showing off a new PS Move Racing Wheel on the way. This framework apparently fits around the Move, featuring different grip styles with twist throttles and paddle shifters depending on what kind of racing you’d like to do. The “precise motion tracking” afforded by the Move appears to be targeted at titles like the upcoming LittleBigPlanet Karting, but it’s hard to see how this will be real wheel, or even controller, alternative for serious gamers. It certainly seems to be fair competition for Microsoft’s Wireless Speed Wheel that was introduced last year or the Nintendo Wii Wheel, but frankly we’re surprised that’s a battle anyone else wanted to be in. Either way, we expect to get our hands on it this week before it hits stores this fall for $39.99.
With M. Night Shyamalan already shooting his next movie — After Earth — on the F65 4K camera, Sony’s PR machine is going all out to assuage remaining doubters in the film industry. One of the more curious aspects of the awareness campaign is that it doesn’t focus solely on the exorbitant resolution — in fact, it gives almost equal weight to other visual promises that Sony hopes will persuade producers, directors and cinematographers to make the leap before anyone else does.
What might those eyeball treats be? Philippe Ros, a DoP hired by Sony to shoot a 4K promo film, put it succinctly at a showing we attended in London this week: “Only the first row in the cinema may notice the resolution, but I’m more interested in the colors than in the 4K.” According to Ros, every terabyte that floods out of the F65 per hour of filming contains color and dynamic range info way beyond what you normally get when shooting digital. The end result? Crews on the ground can relax just that little bit more, knowing that any mundane-looking scenes can be given far greater impact later. Now, even bearing in mind that Ros couldn’t have said anything bad about 4K without things getting awkward, it’s still interesting that he admits to being skeptical of the resolution itself. But if others on independent shoots discover the same post-production flexibility that he did, then the push for 4K might come from filmmakers rather than those further down the food chain.
Owners of the Xperia Play, it’s time to curl up with a teddy bear and your favorite ice cream — just as long as it’s not in sandwich form. After the sudden and unexplained disappearance of the “PlayStation Phone” from the Android 4.0 upgrade list yesterday, Sony has followed it up with a full confirmation accompanied by the usual explanation. As you may have already guessed, the manufacturer tells us that after extensive testing, it was determined that “a consistent and stable experience, particularly with gaming, cannot be guaranteed for this smartphone on Ice Cream Sandwich… in this instance the ICS upgrade would have compromised stability.” Sony went on to discuss that it received similar feedback from the developer community after releasing a beta ROM. Still, after being told repeatedly that theentire 2011 smartphone lineup would receive the update, we can’t help but be a bit heartbroken by the news.
In the same breath, however, Sony also updated its timeline for the rest of the lineup that is still on schedule to receive upgrades to Ice Cream Sandwich: the Xperia arc, neo, mini, mini pro, pro, active and Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman will begin receiving their refreshes next week. The Xperia S is still on track for an end of June rollout, with the Xperia P closely following it and the Xperia U sometime in the third quarter. It’s just unfortunate that the good tidings must be balanced out by equally horrible news, depending on which device you own.
After Sony cut off its supply of capital to the ill-fated Sakai production plant that it jointly owns with Sharp, it became clear that the final goodbye may be little more than a formality. And here it is, in the form of a cold, resolute press release stating that Sony is selling its seven percent stake back to Sharp and taking back the 10 billion yen ($126 million) it originally invested. The only reason given is the “rapidly changing market for LCD panels and LCD televisions,” which is a polite reference to the fact that profits from big TVs are well below what these companies predicted back in the heady days of 2008 and early 2009, when the impact of the global economic crisis loomed without yet being fully apparent. Fortunately for Sony, which is in the delicate stages of reform, the solid pre-nuptial agreement it had in place with Sharp should protect the company from having to revise its financial forecasts for the coming year — not that those were particularly great in the first place.