Sony's Sterns, Shackelford and Sy on 4K, Hi-Res Audio and More
The Sony executives speak at the HTSA conferenceMarch 28, 2014 By Stephen Silver
Frank Sterns, a multi-decade industry veteran who spent many years with Niles Audio, began a new role last year with Sony, as head of the CE giant's custom install channel. At this week's HTSA spring summit, we sat down with Sterns and two of his colleagues, 4K specialist Gordon Shackelford and market planning specialist Joshua Sy, about Sony's plans for the year, as well as Sterns' transition to his new role.
Q: I first wanted to get a general sense of what Sony is trying to accomplish here at the conference this week.
Frank Sterns: Sony's strategic mission for 2014 is to develop a premium speciality performance portfolio, specialty 4K video and high-resolution audio, are strategic goals for us. So it's logical that a strong technology premium-oriented group like HTSA is a prime channel to sell these products in. And we're committed to the group and supporting the group in developing premium business. So that's why we're here.
Gordon Shackelford: These guys are high-end guys. And Sony is a big Japanese company. So the idea that Frank's group is now being formed to service these guys specifically. And Sony's got premium branding, and these guys get premium service, so it's a real win-win for both of these groups.
Q: The major product categories we're talking about here are 4K video and hi-res audio, and what else?
FS: The ES brand, that's ES AV receivers, hi-res audio, ES front projectors, 4K projectors, and the XVR 4K televisions. That's our premium home offering, and that's the focus of what we sell through this group. They have access to the rest of the Sony product line, but those are the real high-end Sony products that these guys like to get behind.
Q: You guys have been spending a lot of time and effort on 4K in the last couple of years. What are some of the challenges associated with selling 4K?
FS: The first challenge is exposing consumers to the benefits. When you look at studies of 4K, there's only a very select group of customers that understand 4K or UHD or what we're talking about. When customers go into the store and see a demonstration, at an HTSA member, they're immediately convinced of the value and it's pretty easy to sell. We're talked to a number of dealers at the conference and they say their sales are rapidly switching to 4K and they're doing quite well with it.