Sony planning digital radio for next year, rivals unfazed

Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW & MELBOURNE VIC: Sony Australia has tentatively confirmed that it will incorporate DAB+ digital radio technology into its audio range “sometime next year”. Not afraid of any new competition, one of the biggest suppliers of digital radios said he’s “delighted” by this news.

The biggest stumbling block for Sony thus far in the introduction of a digital radio range to its lineup has been the technology. Overseas, DAB is the predominant format, whereas Australia has gone with DAB+. This has meant that the bigger companies, such as Sony, have required a longer lead-in time.

“The rest of the world is DAB and we’ve chosen to do DAB+,” said Tory Cefai from Sony product marketing. “We’re currently in discussions about doing DAB+, it could be sometime next year, but nothing’s firm.”

Technology marketing manager Paul Colley said that the incorporation of digital radio into its well-regarded audio systems was exciting, but not without challenges.

“Digital radio offers a new experience for consumers, so it’s exciting, but we need to make sure we can deliver it at an affordable level, which is one of the key things around using a different standard to where it’s already been adopted, such as DAB, but it will come,” he said.

With Sony set to be a new competitor, we asked established market leader Pure Australasia how it felt about having the big boys of the industry as new rivals.

“Delighted,” was MD Graeme Redman’s immediate response.

“It’s going to expand the market significantly and bring a lot more attention and a lot more focus on the technology, on DAB+ and digital radio.”

Redman continued to say that he hasn’t been surprised it’s taken this long for one of the Tier One companies to signify their interest in digital radio.

“I know basically how they work, the big companies, they’re looking to big volume markets, not small volume markets, and in the early stages of pretty much any technology your lead markets are generally small volume markets, that’s a fact of life, it’s nothing to do with digital radio or anything more, it’s just an issue with technology.

“The major companies, with some exceptions, are seldom leaders, it’s the smaller specialists manufacturers that are often the leaders because they’ve got the flexibility to move.”

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