Upgraded version of Xperia Z3 will go on sale in June
Sony is bringing the Xperia Z4 smartphone it launched in Japan to the rest of the world, but with a change of name. Rebranded by Sony as the Xperia Z3+, the smartphone is seemingly being marketed as a slightly upgraded version of the Xperia Z3 rather than a new generation of mobile device, and considering its specifications and physical similarity to earlier models, that may be an appropriate move to make.
Full year financial report reveals Sony's restructuring efforts may be working
Sony anticipates a major change in its finances over the next year, with its full-year financial report predicting its operating profit will greatly increase. The company expects to achieve an operating profit of 320 billion yen ($2.7 billion) for the year ending March 2016, more than four times the 68.5 billion ($571 million) it reported for the year ending March 2015, as well as a net profit of 140 billion yen ($1.2 billion) compared to this year's 126 billion yen ($1 billion) net loss.
Sony Xperia P2 will allegedly borrow screen, processor, RAM from Xperia Z4
Sony is said to be preparing a sequel to the Xperia P, unveiled three years ago, according to a rumor. The Xperia P2 will allegedly borrow a large number of core components from the Japan-only Xperia Z4, including the 5.2-inch Triluminos 1080p display, but it will switch the body design to one where there is a larger section of bezel at the bottom of the case rather than the top, just like its predecessor.
Support for HDCP 2.2 appears in most of the new Sony home cinema audio devices
Sony has revealed a collection of four new sound bars and two A/V receivers to its home cinema audio range. The HT-ST9, HT-NT3, HT-CT780, and HT-CT380 sound bars and STR-DN860 and STR-DN1060 receivers will be going on sale in the United States starting in May, with all but the CT380 being HDCP 2.2 compliant, supporting playback of copyright-protected 4K content.
Quiet Xperia Z4 launch avoids details of release for rest of the world
Sony has quietly launched the latest in its flagship Xperia smartphone line, in Japan. Just like the Xperia Z3 in comparison to the Xperia Z2, the new Xperia Z4 is very similar to its predecessors in terms of design and functionality, with slight improvements to some of its internals while others remain the same, such as the 5.2-inch 1080p Triluminos display.
New Cyber-shots boast 30x optical zoom, flip-up rear display
Sony has unveiled a new collection of Cyber-shot digital cameras, with slimline bodies and a few Alpha-level functions. The HX90, HX90V, and WX500 are extremely similar compact cameras, using an 18.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor with a Bionz X image processor, with the Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens providing a 30x optical zoom, a 35mm equivalent of 25mm to 750mm, and a digital zoom of up to 60x.
News from the video game industry for the week of April 5
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista take a moment to look at some of the notable stories in the world of gaming. This week, Sony says goodbye to the PlayStation Home virtual world, Blizzard starts up the beta for StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, a report claims the original Xbox could have been given away as a free console, and Microsoft is discontinuing the second-generation Kinect for Windows sensor.
Acquisition of OnLive patents set to help Sony PlayStation Now
OnLive, an online game streaming service, is closing down at the end of this month, after selling its patent collection to Sony. The haul of 140 US and international patents will be picked up to help Sony improve its own rival PlayStation Now streaming service, with the shutdown of OnLive servers on April 30 effectively ending the troubled streaming company's existence.
Apple, BlackBerry, others partnered on former Nortel patents
The Rockstar Consortium, a group comprised of Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony, will see a windfall on its 2011 purchase of some 4,000 patents from Canadian tech giant Nortel, with Apple expected to gain at least $392 million from the holding, one analyst says. Wells Fargo's Maynard Um has used BlackBerry's reported gain of 17 percent of a base figure in predicting Apple's share of the profits.
Replacement for Sony Music Unlimited heads to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
The replacement for Sony Music Unlimited is going live on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 today, powered by Spotify. Launching in 41 countries, PlayStation Music provides gamers with access to streaming music, allowing users to play their choice of soundtrack as a background to whatever game they are playing on the Sony game consoles.
Uber launching licensed taxi services in Germany following ban
Uber is going to launch a new service in Germany, following its ban by a local court this month. The court banned Uber over its use of unlicensed cab drivers, reports Reuters, and intends to fine Uber drivers violating local transport laws. A new service will be launching this summer, with Uber paying the commercial passenger transport licenses and to register drives as taxi companies at a cost of between 250 euro ($270) and 400 euro ($435) per driver, most likely under the UberX brand.
PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 works with PlayStation Vue, iPad app incoming
Sony has launched its PlayStation-based Internet television service, just as the company hinted last week. PlayStation Vue has gone live in Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia, with subscribers able to watch live channels and on-demand shows from their PlayStation game consoles, without requiring an accompanying cable or satellite subscription.
Alleged render of Sony Xperia Z4 shows possible major changes to appearance
Sony may have two smartphones being prepared for launch in the near future, if two separate alleged leaks are true. Sony China is said to have leaked some renders of a device which some say could be the Xperia Z4, while a second leak points to a device called the Xperia Cosmos, a mobile phone that apparently focuses on selfies rather than standard photography.
National PlayStation Vue rollout expected by end of this year
Sony is getting closer to launching its PlayStation-based Internet television service, with PlayStation Vue set to open up to new users in a few locations in the United States soon. Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House advised that PlayStation Vue will be leaving its invitation-only testing, and launching in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia within the next two weeks.
Game store for PlayStation certified Android devices closing after two years of service
Sony is closing down its PlayStation Mobile initiative later this summer, the company has announced, with the news affecting PlayStation Vita owners and users of some PlayStation certified Android smartphones. The game store will be ceasing the distribution of content from July 15, with in-app purchases and re-downloading of content purchased from the service ceasing entirely from September 10.
Sony launches at MWC claimed to emphasize mid-range product range
Sony's lack of an Xperia Z4 smartphone launch at Mobile World Congress this week does not mean the company has given up entirely on the device, as Sony's financial situation would suggest. An executive claims the smartphone is still on the way, though it will apparently be launching long before September, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Xperia Z3 launch. When it does arrive, a leak suggests it will be a thinner smartphone that will have some changes compared to earlier models, such as the removal of the microSD card slot.
Comcast notably not allowing PlayStation 4 HBO Go app to operate
HBO Go has been enabled for the PlayStation 4 in the United States, allowing most cable customers with the channel included in their subscription to access the app, with one notable exception. Comcast is still denying access to HBO Go through the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 3, but it is unclear why the cable company is taking the stance in the first place.
Latest PlayStation 4 VR headset prototype has bigger OLED screen
Sony is bringing its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset to consumers in the first half of 2016, the company has advised at the Game Developer Conference. Sony has also revealed a new prototype for the VR headset at the event, with the device exchanging the five-inch LCD panel used in the previous version for an OLED-based 1080p screen measuring 5.7 inches.
The new 10.1-inch tablet makes its debut alongside the M4 phone
Sony has unveiled its new Z4 tablet at Mobile World Congress, claiming the title of world's thinnest and lightest tablet in the 10-inch class. It is also said to integrate the brightest display in the segment, with a battery that promises to last through 17 straight hours of video playback.
Sony style with an accessible price point
Sony has expanded its Xperia smartphone lineup, adding the M4 Aqua this week at Mobile World Congress. The company is not shy about labelling it a midrange Android device, promising that all of the popular features and capabilities remain mostly intact, despite its lower price tag.
Pre-Mobile World Congress leak confirms 2K display for Sony tablet
Sony has accidentally revealed one of its Mobile World Congress Xperia launches a week before it was supposed to. The company's official Xperia Lounge app briefly showed an image of the Xperia Z4 Tablet, before being pulled from view, and though few details have been revealed in the leak, it appears the tablet may end up being a high-specification device.
Sony aiming for $4.2B annual profit within three years
Sony's survival could involve Sony pulling out of more business areas, in order to concentrate on its imaging and entertainment divisions. Seemingly confirming earlier reports, CEO Kazou Hirai's new strategy will now depend on its camera sensor sales and the success of the PlayStation gaming arm to increase its operating profit 25-fold within the next three years, at a cost of minimizing its other businesses.
Sony unveils premium 64GB micro SDXC memory card for sale in Japan
Sony has revealed an expensive memory card to go with its high-fidelity $1,200 Walkman NW-ZX2 media player. The Wall Street Journal reports that the SR-64HXA 64GB micro SDXC memory card, billed as "for Premium Sound" will be sold in Japan for approximately $160, or five times the cost of a standard equivalent. Sony claims the memory card will produce less electrical noise when the host device reads data off it, and though it admits that it is uncertain about the potential demand for the card, the company "thought some people who are committed to great sound quality would want it."
SmartEyeglass headset shipping in march, costs $840
Sony is continuing where the Google Glass headset left off, by putting its own augmented reality headset on sale. The developer edition, model number SED-E1, of SmartEyeglass has become open to pre-order in the United Kingdom and Germany with sales in Japan the United States, and six other countries coming soon, with Sony expecting to ship the $840 head-mounted device in March.
Sony unveils Xperia E4 weeks before Mobile World Congress
Sony has announced the follow-up to its Xperia E3, weeks ahead of an expected launch at Mobile World Congress. The price-conscious stablemate to the anticipated Xperia Z4, the 10.5mm-thick Xperia E4 sports an "OmniBalance" physical design, with curved edges and a premium-in-appearance aluminum power button, surrounding a five-inch 960x540-resolution display, featuring scratch-resistant glass.
Ex-Sony development studio free to work on other platforms
Sony has sold off Sony Online Entertainment, an in-house game development studio and publisher known for Everquest, Planetside 2, and other massively multiplayer online games. The sale was confirmed today by the company and places the studio in the hands of investment management firm Columbus Nova, though as part of the transaction terms, it has to lose the Sony branding and be renamed Daybreak Game Company.
Sony's answer to iTunes will close in February
The official PlayStation blog on Wednesday posted an announcement letting PlayStation users know about a new partnership with Spotify. The service includes existing playlists for those who already have Spotify accounts. The post also, however, contained the news that Sony's own Music Unlimited service will be discontinued in late March.
Companies could potentially pull older music to avoid paying
A new lawsuit has targeted Google, Rdio, Sony, and Apple (including Beats Music) over the music royalties associated with pre-1972 recordings, new reports say. Zenbu Magazines, which owns copyrights on many pre-1972 songs, says that the companies have been making money streaming recordings without paying their copyright holders. Within US copyright law, compositions have been protected since 1831, but sound recordings were only added in 1972, meaning that while owners of pre-1972 compositions have been paid for public performances, people holding equally-aged recording rights typically haven't.
Free games, subscription time, compensation offered to US PlayStation owners
Sony is providing compensation to PlayStation Network users in the United States affected by a major breach in April 2011, half a year after agreeing to a settlement stemming from a class action lawsuit. The original attack, resulting in the closure of the online service and Qriocity for close to a month, risked the personal data and payment details of more than 77 million accounts.
Apple leaps ahead of LG in latter's home market
Apple has seen significant surges in the Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean smartphone markets since the introduction of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last September, according to a study by Counterpoint Research. The most significant performance is reportedly in South Korea, where in November Apple leapt from under 15 percent marketshare to 33 percent. That put the company ahead of LG, slotted at just 14 percent, and significantly closer to Samsung, which dropped from 60 to 46 percent. LG and Samsung are both local to Korea, and have traditionally enjoyed a homefield advantage.
Smartphone, television arms potentially at risk in cost-saving effort
Sony may be open to letting go of its mobile phone arm, along with its television businesses, a report claims. Officials at the electronics manufacturer allegedly close to CEO Kazuo Hirai believe the chief is thinking about getting rid of the two loss-making arms of the company, as a measure to rectify its expected full-year net loss forecast of 230 billion yen ($1.9 billion).
News from the video game industry for the week of January 4
Every Sunday at Electronista and MacNN, we offer a one-stop look at a few of the significant events that occurred in the video game industry during the previous week. In this week's look back in the Weekly Game Replay, we discuss a new game in the Baldur's Gate series from Beamdog, the closure of Zombie Studios, Hellblade coming to PC, the lawsuit over EA using retired NFL player likenesses in Madden NFL moving forward, and Sony delaying the release of the PlayStation 4 in China.
Sony targets audiophiles with four-figure price tag
Sony has introduced a new flagship Walkman, the NW-ZX2, that serves as the successor to the ZX1 model that was introduced less than six months ago. The revised edition marks Sony's latest attempt to engage the audiophile market, with its core feature being capable of playing Hi-Res Audio formats, traditional lower-bitrate audio files, streaming content and other media. Electronista stopped by Sony's CES booth to try out the new gadget, and ponder its four-figure price tag.
Android smartphone will sport limited production numbers, $6,000 price tag
Las Vegas is often associated with excess, usually when it comes to money. It's most fitting, then, that Tonino Lamborghini Mobile brought their latest offering, the 88 Tauri smartphone, to CES in Sin City in order to promote it. The headline-grabbing stat about the hand-made device is its starting price tag -- $6,000.
High-resolution audio playback touted in updated Walkman music player
The Walkman brand is alive and well, with Sony revealing the latest iteration in the product line at CES. The Walkman NW-ZX2 is a high-resolution portable music player that is an upgrade to last years' ZX1, capable of playing 24-bit 192KHz FLAC, Linear PCM, AIFF, Apple Lossless, and WAV files, as well as more standard MP3 and WMA content.
Sony pushing heavily into 4k video with new line of visual products
Sony's launch keynote to the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show has concluded, with the manufacturer announcing a big push into 4K for the year. A total of 11 new 4K Bravia LCD TVs will be brought to market across three series in the year. Additionally, the company is refreshing its Action Cam line, with its newest 4K Handycam -- which is 30 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter than the model that is being replaced.
LG, Sony, Denon among early supporting hardware brands
Google has announced that its Cast technology will soon be able to send audio-only feeds to devices such as speakers and AV receivers. Users will be able to cast from Android and iOS apps, as well the web, presumably via Chrome for Windows, OS X, and Chrome OS. Some compatible services will include Deezer, Google Play Music, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio, and TuneIn.
Sony extends PlayStation Plus subscriptions as apology for holiday downtime
Subscribers to Sony's PlayStation Plus service will receive a five-day extension to their subscription, if they had an active or free trial as of December 25, as an apology for the hacker-induced downtime over the holiday period. The company is also going to provide a one-time 10-percent discount code for the PlayStation Store to all PlayStation Network users later this month, with discount details being published on the PlayStation blog in the future.
New information yields the possibility of at least one ex-employee playing a role
The saga of "who really stole all that data from Sony" continues, in spite of the FBI's adherence to its findings that North Korea alone was responsible. Independent investigations by security organizations have expanded the suspect list to include ex-employees, while net vandals Lizard Squad have, in their continuing quest for attention, claimed partial credit.
Cellphone makers asked to make data more secure regardless
Taiwan's National Communications Commission has issued a report clearing a variety of companies of breaking local data privacy laws, according to Reuters. The organization says that all 12 of the previously-implicated cellphone brands -- including Apple, Huawei, Samsung, LG, Sony, ZTE, and Xiaomi -- are in the clear, despite Xiaomi being the impetus for the investigation. In August, Xiaomi apologized and promised to make changes after a Finnish security firm discovered Xiaomi software was collecting address book data without permission.
News from the video game industry for the week of December 21
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer up a single article with some of the significant happenings in the video game industry for the previous week. In this edition of the Weekly Game Replay, we take a look at Nintendo winning two patent disputes, the catch with the free game offer for Assassin's Creed Unity issues, new details on Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Resident Evil HD cross-buy, and expansion of PlayStation Now to non-Sony devices.
US government blamed by North Korea for Internet downtime
North Korea has blamed the United States for its national Internet outages, according to reports. At the same time, other reports suggest that the insular country may not be behind the original Sony Pictures hack in the first place, with the suggestion that it was actually pulled off by a former employee who had direct access to the studio's network.
Besides being terrible, nobody benefits besides Sony from The Interview
To much fanfare, and terrible reviews, Sony Pictures finally released The Interview -- a contentious, and some say trite, light comedy vehicle where a pair of bumbling reporters are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the leader of North Korea. Conventional media, and governmental figures, have put this forth as a victory for the US' right to freedom of expression, and a defiant Sony agrees. However, viewing the picture isn't the act of defiance and patriotism that Sony wants you to think it is - in fact, viewers are now supporting a company that has called for censorship of journalists and US citizens alike, in the interest of corporate secrets.
Google, Sony, Microsoft all hosting the movie for purchase or rent
Sony and others have unveiled a massive effort to make the Sony Pictures title The Interview available online. Google's YouTube Movies paid service paved the way with its announcement a bit earlier today, with Google Play, Xbox Videos, and a special Sony website all having declared that the movie would be available at 1PM ET. The picture will cost $6 to rent, and $15 to own in HD.
Samsung Smart TVs to gain PlayStation Now in 2015
Sony's PlayStation Now is heading to new Samsung smart televisions. The game streaming service, which allows gamers to play hundreds of PlayStation 3 games without the console, will be available on "select" Samsung TVs arriving in the first half of 2015. Samsung has yet to state which sets will receive PlayStation Now, but more details are likely to surface during CES next month.
News from the video game industry for the week of December 14
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN put together a one-stop article for some of the major news in the video game industry in the past week. In this week's edition of the Weekly Game Replay, we look at Valve's handling of Hatred on Steam Greenlight, Mojang and Telltale Games team up for a narrative-based Minecraft game, a judge gives the go-ahead on a Killzone resolution lawsuit, World of Warcraft is exploring in-game purchasable game time tokens, and Majesco Entertainment's receiving an investor cash infusion.
US continues to claim NK responsible for Sony hack, pirate release of movie possible?
In an interview recorded on Friday, President Obama clarified his remarks last week regarding the Sony Pictures hack. The president denies swirling discussions about the hack being an act of war, and called it "an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive." Additionally, late Sunday, tweets purport that hacker collective Anonymous is about to wade into the fray against North Korea for its role in the event.
Jim Hood claims MPAA has no sway, despite taking MPAA funds
Google has launched its own legal effort to stop Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood's effort with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to pin the search engine as the cause of the world's piracy problem. Google claims in the court filing in Mississippi's district court that Hood has filed a "burdensome, retaliatory" subpoena against it, which would require a massive financial and labor effort to comply, for no real gain other than extra-judiciary punishment. Hood has responded, and is "calling a time out, so that cooler heads may prevail."
Six movie studios, including Sony, provided $500,000 per year for the MPAA's campaign against Google
In the past weeks, quite a lot has been revealed about Sony's role in ongoing anti-piracy efforts due to the leak of emails as part of the fallout of the North Korean-based GOP attack on the studio. In a post on Thursday on the Google Public Policy Blog, Kent Walker, Google SVP and general counsel, outlined even more leaks that describe a combined and carefully planned effort by Sony and five other studios that began this year to provide funding and legal support for the MPAA's efforts to court State Attorney Generals and target Google directly.
FBI, diplomats had previously denied direct North Korean involvement
US government officials now believe North Korea is, in fact, behind the attack of Sony Pictures Entertainment's computer system and subsequent data leaks, according to reports. The government is also said to be preparing to make an official statement about its findings, which may arrive as soon as tomorrow, though apparently there is still some internal debate as to what kind of response to make to the insular country. Previously, the FBI had said it had "no evidence" of a direct North Korean connection, though the country was suspected from the outset.