NEW YORK -- It’s always easy to knock the incumbent for having lost his mojo.
Despite a glorious history and myriad innovations that wowed the world, Sony--dogged by financial woes in recent years--has been overlooked and underestimated, a high-tech geezer whose best innovations are stuck in the 20th century.
EE Times pored over the Sony portfolio, talked to industry analysts, and made a list of nine products/technologies that demonstrate Sony’s unbroken record of leadership in a host of market segments.
Sony’s CEO Kazuo Hirai last year made it clear that he hoped to revive Sony’s electronics businesses by concentrating on the “core businesses” of mobile devices, games and digital imaging.
Although the company sorely needs to prune its sprawl, many Sony watchers remain convinced of Sony’s unparalleled technology prowess--especially in imaging and audio. This historic audio and video expertise will neither generate quick bucks for Sony nor save the company. But it provides ample foundation for Sony to build solid products compelling enough for enthusiasts to pay extra for the pleasure of buying Sony-branded products.
Followings are a handful of examples of reasons why many experts still pay respect to Sony for being Sony.
Do not forget the Sony BMG copy protection rootkit scandal
I have not forgotten.
Every piece of Sony consumer home electronics I have ever bought has failed.
On the other hand, my wife has a Sony NEX-7 digicam. It is a brilliant piece of mechanical and optical engineering, but has terrible firmware.
For the people who question whether Sony has anything cool, I think they have the best digital camera sensors. Olympus and Nikon have used Sony sensors in some of their top models.
I read photography message boards, users of other cameras sometimes lament that their manufacturer does not use Sony sensors.
Just one data point.
When I think of Sony's past, the first thing that comes to my mind (as a consummate consumer) is the disservice they have done to us in A/V format wars. They are the 3rd leg of the nasty triangle I like to call "Hooligan B*st*rds and their $henanigan$". The other 2 legs being the RIAA and the MPAA. It started with the cassette tapes (Sony said it will be a proprietary format and Sony also made hardware to make it recordable but then agreed to charge an excise tax for blank media). Then, Sony continued with proprietary Beta format that was also a captive market and fought tooth-and-nail against VHS. Sony also pitched the RedBook CD format as a 16-bit format but many original hardware and the actual music CDs were released in 14-bits. Next, it was the proprietary miniDisc that Sony pitched as the "perfect sound forever". Yet, since it was heavily compressed; miniDisc was anything but... Sony’s SACD provided a better sound than the CD/miniDisc formats but it was also tainted in the proprietary wars. Next in line was the Sony DAT format (which was truly a superior quality audio format) but also got tainted in proprietary issues, since it meant that near-perfect duplication of audio would have dearly hurt the wallets of the Hooligan B*st*rds. The final straw (that broke this camel's back) was the format wars between HD-DVD versus BluRay discs. This unforgiveable deed to the consumers not only left many early adopters of the HD DVD with bunch of useless players but also left them an expensive library of useless movies. I will not discuss the collusionary price fixing (of music CDs) that escalated all the way up to the US Government hearings. Without ever admitting guilt, they just got the backs of their hands slapped! Until Sony can rehabilitate itself from these predatory behaviors against the consumers, I will continue to boycott these Hooligan B*st*rds and their $henanigan$!
For a Reality Check, the author needs to visit a Sony Store in the local mall. I have. I went to check out some home theatre speaker systems. The model I wanted was out of stock (but in the inventory, according to their computer), and of the other two possibilities, one was not functioning, the other not hooked up.
The young man who helped me didn't know much about the products. The 'manager' was watching something on a laptop computer, and oblivious to customers. The store was dark and dingy.
If Sony has world class technology, it does them no good. Apple is thriving because of their consumer presence, and the vibrant retail store network. If you haven't already, walk into an Apple store. It is unlike any retail experience you will have.
Maybe once a year I hold a 'vinyl night' and play some favorite LP discs (I have most of them in CD versions). I play them on my Sony Biotracer turntable purchased in 1982. The mere sight of this amazing device will jangle the nerves of a vinyl addict. It goes against the grain of traditional tone arm design in having a quite massive housing centered over the pivot; this apparently ignores the traditional goal of low arm mass for agile tracking of warped records (all are warped to some degree).
In fact, the housing contains a pair of servo motors which effectively cancel the arm's mass below 10 Hz. It still gives me a kick to see this seeming lummox agilely tracking a visibly wavy record at 1.5 gm of stylus force.
This would have been a more useful (less emotive) article if for every "great" sector/innovation mentioned we had market share and profit/loss. Emotion is wonderful, like "innovation". However, in all of the sectors mentioned, except camera sensors, Sony is an "also ran" and doesn't make any money!
Sony, to me, has always been innovate. The failure to bring products to the market in recent years is just unfortunate.
The nice feature, iSweep, in Cybershot makes taking panorama picture very easy. This feature is slowly coming to other brand. Yet, Cybershot still has it the best among all.
I have mentioned in previous comments. Sony TV deliver spectacular picture that no other brand is offering. Pushing 4K is a good move. Nonetheless, opening the standard, lowering the loyalty fee and paying more attention on the price are some of the may factors to any companies, particularly to Sony, to keep in mind. If the market plan plays well, I am sure there will be high demand of TransferJet.
Sony's issue is not about technology. It is about marketing. The company lacks market direction, marketing focus, and customer connection. It is great that they have all this technology, but I do not think there is really an end segment anymore that when customers associate a company with that technology that they associate Sony with the exception of video games. Compare that to Samsung that has a high association with Phones, Computer monitors, and Televisions, positions that Sony used to hold.
As a note, a lot of Sony's success in DSLRs is from their purchase of Konica Minolta. Their point and shoots were recognized quite well in the past, but many others have created better recognition in that market.
If you are a fan of the Onion Parodies and ARE NOT EASILY OFFENDED by vulgar language the google "Onion Sony Releases Stupid Piece". Again - if you are offended by gross language by all means don't watch this video. Otherwise, this is a classic Onion bit that's very funny!