updated 04:45 pm EDT, Mon March 19, 2007
Sony chief on Apple
Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer said he wouldn't bet against Apple's chief, and and talked about how Sony missed out on the portable music boom. Stringer, who joined Sony in 1997 and became the company's chairman and CEO the following year, said Sony had its own portable music player before Apple debuted its first iPod. "In 1997 we were working with IBM on electronic music distribution and could have put this out five years earlier [than iPod]," Stringer said. "But we couldn't get our people to understand software. And we are a music company. They saw digital media, panicked and didn't like it." Sony later unveiled a closed music system that failed to perform the way the company had hoped.
When asked about Apple's iPhone, Stringer was positive about Apple's entry into the cellular phone market.
"The good news is that Steve Jobs spotted a trend that we've seen. The phone is a convergence device, between music and a phone. We are all building variations on the same theme. We have sold plenty of Walkman phones [from Sony Ericsson], especially in Europe."
The executive also expressed some concern as a result of Apple's boss joining the ranks of the cellphone industry.
"I would never sit up here and say I'm not worried about Steve Jobs," Stringer admitted. "I wouldn't bet against Steve."