Yes, cedup said it exactly like it is.
Innovation to me has to mean that you introduce something technologically new into the market. For instance, related to the CD example, who introduced the concept of oversampling in the players, to make the low-pass filter less objectionable? Philips. Or, who introduced full-frame image sensors in cameras? Contax and perhaps Canon had these early on, years before Sony got into high end digital cameras.
Ditto for sound-cancelling headphones, sound processing such as Dolby Surround, and on and on. Simply packaging what others developed, while your competition is doing the same thing, does not qualify as innovation.
As I mentioned before in this thread IMHO Sony innovated with trendsetting products. My favorite examples are the Sony Vaio X505 laptop and the Sony RX-100 camera. In 2003 Sony introduced its Vaio X505 laptop. The concept has been first dubbed by the Apple Air laptop and later by the Intel Ultrabook concept. Last year Sony introduced its RX-100 compact digital still camera. The concept of that camera is now being dubbed by all major camera makers. Yes, you may also use the Sony Walkman as an example. Even though the concept of a wearable compact cassette player has been invented before, the Sony Walkman TPS-L2 was the first usable product of this class of music players.
What did Sony ever innovate or invent. Philips invented the CD, a working system was brought to Sony, only because Matsushita didn't want in. Matsushita is of course a development of PHILIPS in the 50's. Philips owned 35% of Panasonic for over 40 years! Sony repacked all Philips inventions. Walkman? Philips cassette, they already had portable cassettes, Sony made it smaller and gave it a marketing name. Same for Disc man. Trinitron, single gun CRT, Philips innovation.. Video game, the first video game was Magnavox Oddessy, Philips again. Sony is like Apple now, marketing blitz. And the video recorder, Philips had the V2000 before Beta, and before VHS. Transistor radio, guess what, REGENCY had the FIRST transistor radio, Sony copied that too, and of course cus of Bell Labs INVENTION of the transistor! Philips was also the world's largest maker of radios! Sony, all hype, all BS. Apple is the 21st century Sony.
Is Sony still alive? Can they innovate or re-capture the magic?
For the quick answer, visit a Sony retail store. You will note that is is virtually empty. The two near me are dark and disorganized. In my last trip to listen to some home theatre equipment, I noted that of the three products I was interested in, only one was actually hooked up and the rep didn't know how to use it.
I walked down the mall to the Apple store. Packed with people, and most were leaving with bags of purchases. A employee greeted me, and was able to handle all the product questions I had. The store was clean, well lit, and full up WORKING products.
It doesn't matter if Sony has the best stuff in the world. You cannot depend on BestBay or Frys to sell your stuff. If your own employees cannot make a sale, then who will?
Sony needs to consider innovation and standards where possible. For example if they can innovate and continue to reduce power consumption (and make that a selling point over other large screen sized HD TV manufacturers) then Total Cost of Ownership will come into play and help them justify a slightly higher cost over Samsung, LG, etc... When I was shopping for an HD TV a few years ago, I bought a Sony and am very happy with it. There was a Sony Eco-friendly model, but it was more limited in a variety of ways.
With respect to Transfer Jet, did Sony try to establish it as a Standard, or did the bring it out as proprietary ? Sometimes that is a big difference maker.
Yes, no doubt, Sony always had and still has fantastic technologies. Even more, I consider Sony as a major technological pioneer. No it is not the CD, with I consider as an innovation of Philips and Rodenstock. No, I consider Sony as a major pioneers just because of products like the Sony Vaio X505 laptop or more recent the Sony RX-100 digital camera.
But Sony left their customers out of the focus. This maybe was a consequence of their not invented here syndrom. Another point I like to mention is the Sony-Bertelsmann cooperation. I think this cooperation led to the extremely restrictive DRM rules Sony implemented. Both issues IMHO forced the decline of Sony's reputation and Sony's financial problems.
I really hope Sony regains reputation. Maybe because deep inside me lives a little nerd.
"Despite a glorious history and myriad innovations that wowed the world, ..."
Hmmm. This strikes me much like the article about whether Apple is no longer "cool." It's almost like the reader is expected to already know that these companies are great innovators and cool.
What if we never believed this?
I think what happens in both instances is that there's a popular myth out there. When reality makes itself a little more obvious than it might have been previously, to some, then the company's credibility is put under the microscope. When in fact, it should have been those popular myths to be questioned beforehand.
In almost every example cited, Sony is one of many players in those product segments. Cameras, TVs, image sensors, audio, PCs, game consoles, you name it. Their products are well put together, but then again, many of the competition are too. Sony products tend to cost more, and maybe that gives them some extra credibility.
I would agree with the "innovator" label with respect to development of the CD, along with Philips, however not in most of the other categories. Their role in consumer electronics today suffers mostly from having been over-hyped in the past, IMO.
TrasnferJet...short-range, ultra high speed wireless connectivity is technically sound, but market opportunity is elusive. I experienced it first hand with UWB. My company tried to promote UWB product back in 2005, but everywhere I go, their first question was "so how far you can go with your UWB"? When way said it is good up to 3ft, they said why don't just use cheap and reliable cable. We provided hundreds of reason why wireless is better than wire, but never successfully capture the customers interest.
Situation may have changed since then, but I still think short-range wireless will have tough time to penetrate the market.