The Japanese way of working is: copy a product or invention from the West. Then make it smaller, cheaper and more profitable.
That worked OK in the 20th century. These days, the world is too competitive.
It's not that these Japanese companies are too slow to change, it's that they cannot change. They never had the creation aspect.
Japan Inc. doesn't get software. User interface defines success in the market today with great technology BEHIND it. Motorola's fate was partially to blame because of this. As I say about the Japanese companies which whom I am engaged with at this moment, "Process over Profit."
It appears to me that countries, companies and managers are sometimes, mostly by chance, at the right place and time with a technology. In such cases they may be very successful. Such success indicates their operational skills not their long term technology forecasting "skills." Long term technology forecasting does not appear to be correlated to the countries, companies or managers (Steve Jobs is an exception). Considering long term technology forecasting a "skill" (i.e. learnable) seems unrealistic.
I think most consumers are sensitive to price. The cost of building plasma has never been able to compete with that of building LCD for various reasons. When price and quality are being evaluated together, consumers are willing to sacrifice a bit of quality to a way better price. Lately, I have visited Sony shop and saw a TV with noticeable better picture quality with price of close to $3,000 of a 55" screen.
Product management and development is a bet. You bet that consumers are willing to spend the dollars to own these features and the quality of the product given an economic situation.
As I had a pleasure to work together with guys and gals from other Japanese giant - Toshiba Electronics I noticed one thing: problem with marketing communication. Who the heck did know that Toshiba had the best quality NAND Flash components? Only geeks, so 90% of people decided to buy TLC components from Samsung, cause they offered higher capacity at better price. The same story with plasma TV - the quality was and still is faaaaaaar much better than LCD or LED. But people didn't know it and decided to buy LCD, even though their quality wasn't as good as plasmas. And last but not least - have you ever tried to watched Sharp's LCDs? Who knew that they invented 4th colour for displaying? You can feel the difference after few minutes or hours of watching it. It's so obvious, that both Panasonic and Sharp offer still excellent products, but they didn't know how to communicate it. Maybe it's because I'm the PR guy and electronics geek, but it really hurts when you look at these excellent companies with excellent products in the situation and comments where they are right now.
There is really no right or wrong things to do. If you made it, everything you did must be right. If you lost it, people can find millions of things that you did wrong. Just considering Apple. Apple did it all the wrong ways. Others focus on either software or hardware; Apple wants both. Others go to open systems; Apple insisted its own closed system. On and on. Right or wrong? I don’t know. But it takes a genius to reverse the tide.
maybe this is just a normal round of business cycle for japan inc. same as kodak, xerox,
generally older folks ll get slower in respond time, can't blame em anyway.
just wait for younger gen to pop out.
Certainly, they didn't have to put everything behind displays.
But the truth is, for many Japanese CE manufacturers, this was about "TV business" (not about "display" business).
You need to understand that TV division at many of these companies has been the main pillar of their business for decades. That means, their division had more sways in getting support and budget in investing further in its business.
Japanese CE vendors could have chosen to buy displays from someone else (which Sony eventually did, but that did not help them either), so that they didn't have to make HUGE investment in manufacturing displays on their own.
But again, remember, many engineers at Japanese CE vendors devoted their lives in developing and perfecting flat panel display technologies of their own. For them, this was personal. It was, in many ways, unthinkable for them to drop their R&D project and walk away from it.
Hence, the engineering ego becomes the issue, while much to be blamed, in my opinion, is the lack of management directions to navigate the changing market and business.
Japanese believed that controlling their own flat panel display technology development and production was to control their own fate in the TV business, which Samsung managed to do successfully.