By Shirley Kilpatrick – transcribed from recording made during the conference in Edinburgh.
(This is a close transcript of speeches delivered by Sony execs, with photos).
My name is Nick Sharples. I am the director of corporate communications of Sony Europe, and it is my pleasure to be your host for this afternoon’s activities. I suspect many of you will not have attended a launch in Scotland before, so I thought it might just be worthwhile spending a couple of minutes on explaining first of all where we are.
Scotland occupies the Northern half of Great Britain, and historically Scotland and England have not got on, being in a constant state of strife all the way up until the year 1707 when the kingdom of Scotland joined with the kingdom of England to become the kingdom of Great Britain – and we have been joined together ever since.
Now Scotland itself is bounded on the East by the North Sea and to the North and the West by the Atlantic. It comprises over 917 different islands. Edinburgh is the capital city, it’s the second largest after Glasgow, and Edinburgh has a striking setting sitting as it does perched on a series of extinct volcanoes and rocky outcrops. The city is dominated by Edinburgh Castle seated atop one of the tallest of the crags. From the ramparts you can look down on a series of mediaeval lanes, sweeping terraces and grand houses that hide thousands of years of history… but there’s also a modern side to Edinburgh. Edinburgh is one of Europe’s largest financial centres, it’s home to cutting edge art galleries, bars, clubs and restaurants and Edinburgh also hosts one of the largest cultural festivals in the world – the Edinburgh Festival – not to mention the Edinburgh Tattoo, based here in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle.
Edinburgh is part of the reason why we brought you all the way here to Scotland but the other is the stunning scenery for which Scotland is rightly famous. Just a few miles outside Edinburgh is a land of lakes, of castles, of rolling moorland and highland, and indeed dramatic mountainscapes. All of this is a haven for great photography and provides ample photo opportunities. Many of which you will have the opportunity to sample tomorrow morning, hopefully once the rain has stopped and we’ve put in an order for that already.
So enough of Edinburgh and let’s move on with the business of the press conference. We have a number of speakers for you this afternoon and I’ll pop up from time to time to introduce them but to start the proceedings and to place the launch of our flagship alpha digital SLR in a wider Sony context it gives me great pleasure to introduce Fujio Nishida, president of Sony Europe.
Good afternoon everyone and welcome to Edinburgh. My name is Fujio Nishida, president of Sony Europe. Thank you for joining us today here in Scotland for what I hope will be an enjoyable and informative event. Edinburgh and the highlands are a photographer’s dream come true they mix ancient historical monuments like the castle with the beautiful rolling highland, heathland and mountain and best of all everything is bathed in the special light that is unique to Scotland.
Now, to the business. In a moment you will be hearing from my colleagues about Sony’s decisive first move into this higher end DSLR but first I would like to remind you just why digital imaging is so important to Sony. The great looking pictures are at the very heart of what Sony does and from breathtaking photos – of which more in a momenr – to the stunning clarity of high definition TV Sony has dedicated itself to imaging excellence “like no other”.
Television viewers can enjoy the gorgeous high definition pictures on their Bravia television that have been captured by broadcasters using Sony professional cameras. And don’t forget, of course, that Sony was one of the primary movers in the development of the Blu-Ray Disc, a technology that’s central to the whole family of Sony products, from Playstation 3 to Vaio PC. In the latest high tech cinemas around Europe movie enthusiasts can enjoy big screen HDTV pictures captured with Sony HDTV movie cameras and presented by our incredible four-state dissolve projector. The finest in the world.
Companies can bring efficiencies and savings to their business with Sony HD video conference system that link customers, staff and partners around the world. Surgeons can beam HD video images from delicate neurosurgical operations to students on another continent and of course, visual imaging know-how is core to our other media interests from movies, video games.
So, at Sony, we really understand the power of digital image. It’s what we do from our consumer electronics business to the solution that we provide for broadcasters and media professionals. This passion for great pictures in nowhere more apparent than in our digital imaging group. This covers amateur digital compact cameras, digital SLR, Handycam and camcorders. Indeed, it is one of the most important contributors to our global electronics business.
We have already enjoyed significant success in Digital SLR, a category that we have no presence in before 2006. We are delighted that in such a short time we have achieved more than 17% European market share according to the latest market research, and in countries such as Poland and the Netherlands we have much stronger presence performance where we enjoy a number two market leader position ahead of our key competitors.
Since launching our first Alpha 100 we have steadily extended the family, adding bodies and lenses and accessories to create and amazingly versatile DSLR system that lets mainstream photo enthusiasts take their passion to the next level. We have broadened the Alpha offering to four models including the Alpha 700, that hinted at our up-market ambitions. Until today our cameras have been based around the popular and affordable APS-C format sensor but that’s about to change as you will see in a moment.
The worldwide digital SLR market is on fire right now and in Europe in particular there is significant growth potential for a manufacturer like Sony. We have already entered the entry level class with three new models in Spring, and we are really excited to be introducing our new flagship model to the high flying semi-pro segment which are presently dominated by just two players. This is just the kind of challenge that we relish.
Equally we are well aware of the formidable difficulties in breaking into a ruthlessly tough market where we have no track record. Since the beginning of this year it has been common knowledge that Sony was working on the flagship DSLR based around the Full Frame Sensor. It was an obvious next step, building on the successful launch back in 2006 of our very first Digital SLR. With the flagship model we want to show how serious we are about digital imaging and demonstrate our commitment to this market, and thereby fulfilling our ambition to complete our full range line-up from entry level to the high end. This is something else that sets Sony apart from many other electronic or photo companies.
Our expertise lies in semi-conductor design and the fabrication manufacture. This means that we enjoy absolute control over all aspects of architecture, production, quality control… and it means we can turn new ideas into the commercial silicon quicker and more efficiently than other companies.
With our new camera, this unique skill-set and imaging heritage has led us to create a competitively priced camera with the highest ever resolution sensors ever seen on a DSLR camera, and with this new DSLR flagship we have proven that the plurals of performance and image quality are finally accessible to serious amateurs and enthusiasts, who are ready to raise their game to the next level. At the same time we have confidence this flagship model can also strive to match the needs of our professional users.
OK, I’m not going to be giving you a complete run down on the capability of this amazing camera now. I’m going to leave that job to my good colleague, Toru Katsumoto, later – but do I want to stress again just how important the digital imaging business is to Sony.
We’ll be hearing more details in a few weeks time after Photokina but I am delighted to confirm that Sony is continuing its commitment to all photographers and to the photo industry with our ongoing support of the Sony World Photography Awards. For the second year running we will be giving our full support to this fantastic contest that has already generated some incredible images from amateurs and professionals from around the world – and once photographers get their hands on our new flagship DSLR, I’m really looking forward to seeing the results on display in next year’s competition. Thanks everyone. I hope that you all enjoy and profit from your time in Edinburgh.
Thank you very much!
(to be continued next with Katsumoto-san’s section – thank you, Shirley, for deciphering this from my Zoom H2 recording! All photographs taken with Alpha 700 firmware v4, ISO 1600, 24-105mm KM D lens – David)