As much as Sony is looking forward to the Feb. 2009 analog broadcast cutoff, the opportunity to sell millions of government-subsidized digital converter boxes isn't why. Sony isn't even touching that mess, or the low-end consumers who want them. Talking about the effect of digital converter boxes on the HDTV biz today in New York, Sony Electronics CEO Stan Glasgow told us:
"Those that really are going to go the converter box, they're not going to buy a TV anyway. We're talking about a $40 converter box that's going to downgrade a digital to an analog signal—I think, some people, it's good enough for them, but they were not going to be TV purchasers from Sony anyway. So I don't see that being a major effect in terms of HD televisions being sold in this country." [emphasis added]
Not that converter customers can't be swayed to HDTV—Glasgow said it was an opportunity for retailers to upsell customers to an HDTV instead of the box.
Sony isn't the only one playing hands-off with Ma and Pa Kettle—since it really address the lowest rung of the market, and mainly older people, it's being swooped on by companies who control old-school brands like RCA, Magnavox (Philips) and Zenith (LG).