Sony's president opened the Cebit trade show in Wednesday evening with a speech that highlighted the show's emphasis on wireless data services and the convergence of computing, telecommunications and the Internet.
Kunitake Ando, Sony's president and chief operating officer, became the first executive from an electronics and entertainment company to open the giant trade show, which is being held in Hanover, Germany, and to make his point he was introduced on stage by two of Sony's latest talking robots.
"IT, communications and entertainment are all coming together," Ando said. "A world of connected devices is emerging with new applications and content that will delight consumers."
Sony, Nokia Corp. and Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV on Thursday morning will announce their joint development of a new wireless technology to further the steady advance of wireless computing, he said. He offered no details but devoted much of his speech to the rapid growth of wireless multimedia services.
"Our vision is to create a world where, regardless of the codec (coder-decoder) or operating system, users will be able to connect with anyone and enjoy content in a protected manner," he said.
Eight out of every 10 cell phones sold in Japan today are equipped with a digital camera, and customers use their phones to download songs, music videos and movie trailers, he said. Such devices, combined with the emerging 3G (third-generation) mobile data networks, provide a richer wireless experience that is like "the difference between listening to radio and watching color television," he said.
This year's Cebit marks the real start of the broadband era, in which the experience of end users will be transformed through the delivery of digital services tailored to their personal tastes, he said.
Germans will be able to use digital signatures for all legal and business activities by the end of 2005, he said. And by the end of the decade, half of its citizens will have a broadband Internet connection and all television content will be digitized, he said.
Proper training and education are essential if all Germans are to become part of the "information society," he said. In mobile services, Germany has caught up with Sweden and Britain and is ahead of the U.S., he said.
Willi Berchtold, president of the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media, or "Bitkom," opened the ceremony by heralding the arrival of an upturn in the economy after years of decline.
"This year's Cebit will carry the following message: The lean years are behind us and ahead are years of growth," he said.
Bitkom forecasts 4 percent growth in worldwide IT spending for 2004, with 3 percent growth in Europe and 2.5 percent for Germany, he said.