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Sony Unveils Qualia Brand
Jun 11, 2003
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Sony Corp, unveiled a new upmarket brand on Tuesday in an effort to bring a sense of "cool" to a product lineup that has lost some of its cachet.

The consumer electronics maker said products bearing the new brand, called "Qualia," will be made only after a customer has placed an order.

"These days, we're concerned with how many we can sell or how much market share we can get, and as a result there are many products that never got made," Sony chief executive Nobuyuki Idei told a news conference.

The first products in the "Qualia" range include a high-definition home theatre projector for 2.4 million yen (U.S. $20,300), a 36-in Trinitron super-clear television for 1.3 million yen, and a digital camera that can fit in a shirt pocket but has two mega-pixel capacity and a 380,000 yen price tag.

The range also features a CD audio system in which a disc can be placed anywhere on a playing surface the size of a salad plate.

Qualia is part of Sony's strategy to differentiate itself from rivals such as South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. and to restore its faded brand premium, the company said.

It has set no sales target for Qualia, but Idei said the technology developed by the brand's innovative products could be used in other areas of its business.

Products must be approved by Idei and Sony President Kunitake Ando before going into the development stage for the brand.

Sony officials did not say how many Qualia products will be rolled out this year but said 17 projects, including the four announced on Tuesday, are in advanced stages of development.

The manufacturer will initially open Qualia shops in Tokyo and Osaka, but hopes to take the brand overseas as soon as possible. The products will be made in Japan. (Reuters)

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