Sony CEO replaces gloomy predictions with rosier outlook

Buoyed by Black Friday sales plus an investment in Sony last month, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer said this morning he believes a financially stressed-out US population will stay at home this winter and use CE products...like Sony's own.

After successful Black Friday sales for Sony's PlayStation 3 and high definition Blu-ray products, along with a recent investment by a Middle East investment firm, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer has now replaced earlier projections of doom and gloom with predictions of a rosier future for Sony.

"Black Friday turned out to be very good for consumer electronics sales -- and very good for PS3 sales and PSP sales and beyond," Stringer said, in remarks made in a video broadcast over the Internet this morning.

Only a month ago, Stringer sang an entirely different tune. In a "Captain of Industries" lecture on November 9 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Stringer contended that Blu-ray sales had been going well for Blu-ray until last August, when Viacom, a unit of Paramount, decided to end its dual support for Sony's Blu-ray and the competing HD DVD format, and to go with HD DVD only instead.

But now, said Stringer, Black Friday's strong sales results indicate that consumers are overlooking uncertain economic conditions and buying PlayStation 3 and PS2, Blu-ray, and other CE products anyway.

PlayStation 3 has been fighting a tough competitive battle against Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii. As previously reported in BetaNews, industry analysts have been divided over Sony's chances in the race, with some analysts saying that Playstation will fare well and others expressing big doubts.

Yet the PS3's monthly sales have tripled since the recent introduction of a high-end model, based on estimates from NPD and others, and Blu-ray sales are also going well, according to the Sony CEO.

"We are holding up. It's a shaky economy in the United States, [but] it hasn't affected electronics in the US so far," Stringer said, in words broadcast by Reuters this morning, spoken at a roundtable.

"Maybe that's what customers will pay for in this kind of difficult climate. Maybe they'll stay at home and watch television."

Stringer's thoughts in this regard echo statistics from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The CEA forsees that, although expenditures on travel and new homes are down, sales of CE products during this year's holiday season will be 7% higher than those of last year's holiday season.

Stringer has other reasons for optimism, too. Shares of Sony stock have been on the rise ever since Dubai International Capital made an investment in Sony about three weeks ago.

The Dubai investment firm has a base of over 25,000 shareholders, including the government of Dubai, the National Bank of Dubai, Emirates Bank International, and Emirates Islamic Bank, for example.

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