x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Sony sets sights on big profits from the Middle East

Sony forecasts 15 to 20 per cent growth in its $180 million content creation business in the Middle East and Africa.

Demand for cheaper motion picture equipment in the Middle East and Africa is forecast to give Sony a revenue boost.

Sony Professional Solutions, a unit of the Japanese electronics giant, says its content creation business is worth US$180 million (Dh661.1m) per year in the region.

The business - which specialises in professional video cameras, recorders, editing equipment and monitors - forecasts that its sales will grow by 15 to 20 per cent in the company's next financial year, which starts in April.

Rob Sherman, the managing director for Sony Professional Solutions in the Middle East and Africa, said greater demand for cheaper products would drive that growth.

"Within our content creation business, we see growth in this region, on average over the last three or four years, of about 15 per cent per year," Mr Sherman said. "Next year, we see a lot of good projects coming in the content creation area. And we want to grow that."

Content creation accounts for about three quarters of Sony Professional Solutions' revenue in the region.

Working with large media organisations was one "source of growth" for the business, Mr Sherman said.

But despite many of its products being aimed at news broadcasters such as Al Jazeera, Mr Sherman says he envisages growth in the market for less-costly equipment.

"Our products have got much cheaper, which is another reason why we can expand that market. In order to grow more, we need a much wider customer base," he said. "Moving forwards, what I'd like to see is … more of a production community here in the Middle East."

Mr Sherman added that Sony Professional Solutions planned to widen its offering of affordable film-making equipment in the Middle East and Africa.

"I see the potential, but not the demand, for video storytelling, video documentaries," he said. "For this region, there always been quite a rich cultural storytelling industry. What we really want to try to do is help grow the market, help grow the interest in that production community."

Sony Professional Solutions' regional clients include Al Jazeera and the Abu Dhabi media zone twofour54. One of Sony's latest products - the F65 digital motion picture camera - has a list price of $65,000.

The company recently won a $13m deal to supply high-definition (HD) equipment to Qatar TV.

Other work includes fitting out the studios at twofour54 with HD equipment, as well as supplying Abu Dhabi Media, which also owns and publishes The National.