Over the past decade Sony has fallen from tech giant to struggling underdog, with mismanagement and a series of mistakes causing the firm to miss out on just about every big advance in consumer electronics. But where did it all go wrong?
The New York Times ran a wonderful feature over the weekend about the firm’s decline. It’s worth reading in full, but here’s a taste:
“What went wrong is a tale of lost opportunities and disastrous infighting. It is also the story of a proud company that was unwilling or unable to adapt to realities of the global marketplace.
“Sony’s gravest mistake was that it failed to ride some of the biggest waves of technological innovation in recent decades: digitalization, a shift toward software and the importance of the Internet.
“One by one, every sphere where the company competed – from hardware to software to communications to content – was turned topsy-turvy by disruptive new technology and unforeseen rivals. And these changes only highlighted the conflicts and divisions within Sony.”
A fine example is the MP3 player: Sony had the technological and musical background to launch an iPod-beating digital music device long before Apple launched its device. It never happened. Famously, Sony was also late to flat-panel displays.
Sony made three big mistakes: it focused on releasing cutting-edge hardware at the expense of releasing products on time and creating software, its catalogue of products became bloated and confusing, and its online strategy sucked.
Now, Sony is being led by Kazuo Hirai, the man behind PlayStation. He’s planning to slim down the Sony range and is focusing on mobile devices, cameras and camcorders, and games. He’s got one hell of a job on his hands. [New York Times]