Consumer 360 video is all the rage, but Sony plans to keep playing it safe

It’s a bit strange that Sony, who has a hand in nearly every corner of the entertainment and tech industries, has not pursued competitors into the 360-degree imaging market, but we finally have some insight into why.
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It’s strange to not see Sony’s hand in just about any segment of the consumer tech industry but the company’s immersive video plans don’t include a stand-alone 360 camera.

From video games to movies to music to photography, Sony’s name shows up constantly throughout the tech and entertainment industries. It is perhaps strange, then, that the company has not pursued competitors into the 360-degree imaging market. Sony briefly explained the reasoning behind this in a recent interview with Digital Photography Review, revealing a strikingly nonchalant attitude toward the consumer 360 market.

In what may come as a surprise, senior executive Yasuyuki Nagata said of consumer immersive video, “The market itself is kind of shrinking.” Sony’s position, at least for the time being, is to focus any 360-degree efforts on the high end of the market. As Nagata explained, “Instead of having one camera for 360, we’d probably prefer to support professional users making 360 imaging using our A7-series and a rig, rather than chasing after the consumer market.”

More: Sony is developing a 150-megapixel sensor with some serious detail

Sony certainly isn’t the only camera manufacturer to steer clear of consumer immersive video, but given the company’s deep vertical integration and habit of offering a breadth of products at every price point, its seeming willingness to ignore the category altogether is telling. Perhaps throwing down with the long list of contenders currently vying for dominance in low-end 360-degree imaging just doesn’t sound like an attractive option, especially at a time when Sony is finding success among professional image makers who buy higher-margin products.

According to Nagata, Sony still sees room for growth in the professional market, fueled by strong sales of its A7 series of full-frame mirrorless cameras. The company is currently building out its Pro Support Network to help high-end users around the world, following in the footsteps of Canon and Nikon who have long offered special member services to professional users.

Still, Nagata says Sony remains committed to the consumer market and that the company’s future success depends on it continually offering “new imaging experiences.” Apparently, however, those new experiences won’t include 360-degree video.

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