• The Associated Press


Sony Corp. unveiled a range of high-end digital electronics products Tuesday in a bid to empower its brand and differentiate itself from its cheaper Asian rivals.

The electronics and entertainment giant will begin selling the Qualia product line in Japan this month, including a 380,000 yen digital camera the size of a disposable lighter and a 2.4 million yen home-theater projector.

It will launch the line in the United States and Europe soon, but the dates have yet to be set, the company said.

Sony’s electronics sector has been badly battered by price competition, especially from Chinese manufacturers with cheap labor, and even prized brands such as the Vaio are starting to lose their luster.

Chief Executive Nobuyuki Idei said Sony isn’t aiming to sell the Qualia products in bulk, but is instead focusing on quality.

“These products show the dedication and talent of our engineers,” Idei told reporters at a Tokyo showroom where the products were demonstrated. “As long as we stay true to this humble attitude of creation, Sony will thrive.”

The name Qualia comes from a scientific concept of what happens in the brain to enable human feelings and perceptions, Idei said, an idea he ran across in a book by Kenichiro Mogi, a researcher at Sony Computer Science Laboratories.

Sony is studying about 70 Qualia proposals in various sectors and is developing 13 other products, although the company refused to give details.

Among the Qualia products shown Tuesday was a 1.3 million yen color TV offering top-grade visual quality and an audio console costing 1.5 million yen that automatically centers the compact disc so the user need only carelessly place it in the player — a convenience Sony Executive Deputy President Shizuo Takashino compared to an elegant Japanese tea ceremony.

“We have too often been sidetracked by the meaningless competition of pricing and market share,” Takashino said. “If we continue with this kind of competition, we’re all doomed.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.