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Samsung, Sony set pre-emptive strikes

Bloomberg

Samsung Electronics Co. and Sony Corp. reportedly plan to unveil new devices next month as two of Asia’s biggest technology companies try to showcase their products before Apple Inc. releases new iPhones and iPads.

Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, a wristwatchlike device with features of a smartphone, and Note 3 will be introduced Sept. 4, according to sources. Sony’s latest Xperia handset, featuring imaging sensors used in its TVs and cameras, will be unveiled the same day, two other sources said.

Samsung and Sony are introducing their devices for the holiday shopping season as they try to steal the thunder from Apple, which has promised “several more game changers” in the product pipeline. Apple, which hasn’t released a new handset this year, plans to introduce new versions of its iPhone and iPad at a Sept. 10 event, according to a separate source.

“It is meaningful for Samsung to launch the product first ahead of Apple,” said James Song, a Seoul-based analyst at Daewoo Securities Co. “Putting new devices out there ahead of Apple will at least have some positive leapfrogging impact on both companies.”

The Samsung and Sony announcements are both scheduled two days before the start of the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

Apple, the world’s most valuable technology company, set the standard for product announcements under founder Steve Jobs, and that has continued under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. The company’s releases of devices including the iPod, iPhone and iPad gained global media attention.

When Samsung introduced its flagship Galaxy S4 handset in March, the company took a page from Apple’s book with a glitzy launch at Radio City Music Hall in New York that was also streamed live to video screens in Times Square. The South Korean company also plans at least two other high-end handsets this year, including a device using the Tizen operating system.

Samsung, which overtook Apple as the world’s largest smartphone-maker last year, next month will introduce a wristwatchlike device that can make phone calls, surf the Web and handle email, according to sources who asked not to identified before a formal announcement.

The device will be powered by Google Inc.’s Android operating system and go on sale this year to beat a potentially competing product from Apple, the sources said. The Galaxy Gear being released next month won’t have a flexible display, though the company is continuing to work on developing a bendable screen, one person said.

Samsung, Asia’s biggest technology company, is racing Sony and other competitors to create a new industry of wearable devices as the market for top-end handsets nears saturation. The global watch industry will generate more than $60 billion in sales this year.

“It will carve a niche for sure because this is an initial product in the market,” said Chung Chang-won, an analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Seoul. “Wearable devices could be one of the trends in the smartphone market.”

Apple had a team of about 100 people working on a watchlike device, two sources said in February. The Cupertino, California-based company is seeking a trademark for iWatch in Japan.

Sony’s new flagship Xperia smartphone, developed under the code name Honami, will feature imaging technology developed for its cameras and ultrahigh definition TVs, according to two sources.

Xperia handsets are part of CEO Kazuo Hirai’s plan to revive Sony with smartphones, TVs and game consoles that connect with the company’s entertainment content. To lure customers from Apple and Samsung, the Tokyo-based company is using X-Reality picture-enhancement chips developed for TVs and sensors for Cyber-shot cameras, the sources said.

Yu Tominaga, a Tokyo-based spokesman, declined comment on whether a new Xperia model will debut before the IFA show.

Billionaire Daniel Loeb, whose Third Point LLC controls funds that own about 6.9 percent of Sony, cited Honami and other products as ways for Sony to gain market share, according to a July 29 letter to investors.

Sony this month rejected Loeb’s push for a partial sale of its entertainment assets, with Hirai citing growing Xperia sales for the company’s decision. The company expects to sell 42 million smartphones this year, it said.

IFA runs from Sept. 6 to 11.

  • wrle

    sony is dead. whats the hype? samsung has no interest in competition with sony.