Did electronics giant Sony chance it's luck at the CES in Las Vegas this last week or was their surprise unveiling of an electric vehicle a calculated risk?
The answer probably lies in the roots and evolution of what is now the 97th ranked corporation in the world according to Forbes.
Throughout it's history, Sony has been an amalgamation, a co-operation of things, right from the partnership of it's founders ,Morita Akio and Ibuka Masura, looking to rebuild their lives in the wake of the Second World War.
From the origins of the company name which was a fusion of the Latin word 'sonus' meaning sound or sonic and the oft-used expression in 50's Tokyo of 'Sonny Boys' (used to described the smart, energetic, optimistic, young businessmen of that time) to it's current corporate set up of 4 complimentary business divisions, electronic, gaming consoles, entertainment and financial services.
So where do motor vehicles fit in to all this?
Let's start by looking at what exactly Sony unveiled this week:
Introduced as the Vision S, it's supposedly an 'electric concept sedan' designed to show off the company's technology..
Frankly, the exterior is somewhat futuristic but less than unique. Bland, sleek, saloonesque lines shrouded in a generic silver concept car bodysuit...think more Big Boy Racer than modernistic mainstream.
Some at the press launch even quipped that they would have been more excited to see the new PS5, which wasn't unveiled as expected.
The one thing that does stand out is the extraordinary amount of glass incorporated into the design and that is emphasized by the apparent size of the sunroof.
And maybe that is the key, in part, to this exercise...it is as important to be able to see what is in the car as anything else because this is all about what is inside rather than any notion of being a serious standalone player in the automotive world.
Put simply, the car is a platform to show off the firm's sensors and in-car entertainment technologies.
It comes with Sony's own 360 Reality Audio, speakers and displays built into each seat so that the system provides what is described as a 'deep, immersive sound' which along with a full connectivity suite comes from the likes of Bosch and Blackberry.
The dashboard features an ultra-wide panoramic screen 'for driving information and entertainment'.
The Vision-S will feature 33 different sensors on the inside and the outside of the proposed vehicle. One new feature is a 'sensing technology' that detects occupants and allows them to control the entertainment systems through hand gestures.
Additionally, it is rumoured that newly developed powerful image sensors could be used to analyse the road ahead. This in turn could facilitate assisted-driving systems helping the driver to decide when to brake or adjust the steering. In someways similar to Tesla's vaunted 'Auto-pilot' (which isn't!) but not quite Jetson-like self-driving.
Under the hood (or is it in the trunk?) is a 'newly-designed EV platform' which appears to have been engineered by automotive supplier Magna, Sony even hinted at a family of vehicles using the new system.
So where does this all leads us...
"We will accelerate our efforts to contribute to the future of mobility"Sony's chief executive, Kenichiro Yoshida
Contribution? Well, there it is in a nutshell....this isn't about Sony making cars, they even admit they have no plans to put the Vision S into production, this is their way of demonstrating what their technologies can do and how they will look.
And as with a lot of things Sony, it combines the differing parts of their business to best effect...electronics, gaming consoles, entertainment......hey, if they could just get the financial services division involved in car loans and insurance..
When all is said and done, the technologies and proposed usages are of interest, even if the whole concept thing isn't, especially when it embraces green tech, safety, AI, and improved inter-connectivity amongst other things.
So was it as big a gamble for Sony to launch their foray into 'mobility' at CES as it was for the organizers to invite Ivanka Trump to lecture on getting a job? Probably not, the former has proven that it usually knows what it's doing!