Can Sony reclaim its former glory?

Image Credit: Chris Velazco / Engadget

To be fair, Sony has done a solid job of turning its business around since its miserable 2000s. Howard Stringer, The Company first English-speaking CEO, tried to introduce western-style management into the very traditional Japanese enterprise. But that wasn’t enough to help Sony successfully weather the 2008 economic downturn, or deal with the rise of newcomers to consumer electronics like Samsung and other low-cost competitors. Kazuo Hirai, the former head of the PlayStation who took over from the CEO in 2012, turned to layoffs and cost-cutting measures (like the aforementioned PC abandonment) to stabilize the business. He achieved its goal in 2018, when Sony was finally able to report a solid profit and quickly announced its retirement.

Kenichiro Yoshida, former CFO and current CEO of Sony, was also instrumental in the takeover of the company. But for Sony to regain its former glory, it must do more than just survive: it must find a way to thrive again.

Sony could try to emulate a more dominant competitor like Samsung, but that will be difficult, according to Ross Rubin, senior analyst at Reticle Research. “It is very difficult to compete with Samsung because of its huge marketing budget, its large portfolio, its relationships with operators and its consumer ecosystem which is (by far) second behind Apple,” he said. . A better option might be to follow Microsoft’s move to the cloud, which was more focused on serving business users and verticals (i.e. providing something that multiple businesses can use).

This is basically what Sony is already doing with its photo sensor business, but according to Rubin, the company could potentially build on this: “The future of imaging sensors is bright as we will see them enter all sorts of ways. new devices. see them being active in a larger VR / AR headset market beyond PSVR. “While the VR market has been slow to take off, devices like the Oculus Quest 2 are proving that ‘it is possible to make them cheaper and easier to use. And all eyes are on Apple as it pursues its augmented reality strategy.

AR glasses have the potential to impact the world as much as the iPhone. After all, smartphones put connected supercomputers in our pockets; The AR specs would simply move a lot of our mobile experience into our field of view. (You can practically hear marketers salivating at the thought.) a Technavio report, the augmented reality market could grow by $ 77 billion by 2024. But of course, that’s the best-case scenario that assumes we’ll actually see successful AR products.

Considering the huge potential of augmented reality, it would be a good idea for Sony to make sure that it can fuel this category for others. But given how well the PSVR turned out (and how promising his sequel looks), it’s not hard to imagine that Sony also has a chance to make its own AR glasses. To truly compete in this arena and avoid the mistakes of its past, Sony will need to match Apple’s software and usability prowess. It’s a difficult thing for an aging business to learn overnight. I also can’t think of many companies that Sony could partner with (Google has its own usage issues when it comes to consumer devices). The only real solution is for Sony to curl up, hire new designers and face its weaknesses head-on.

It’s not like Sony is afraid to jump into some bold new technology. It just can’t make a dent in a world dominated by Apple, Samsung, and Google. His electric car prototype looks cool, but will that lead to something other than Sony being just a piece of in-car entertainment technology? Who needs it horrible portable speakers? Will music producers ever hang on 360 Reality Audio? And can we all admit that the Aibo is just a useless toy for rich kids? The real key to innovation is figuring out what new ideas can really reshape the way we live as much as the Walkman did.

Sony is at least well aware of its current creative quagmire. The company has launched a Business creation department in 2014, with the aim of accelerating the development of new innovative products. But above all, this has led to niche products that never really took off, like the You smartwatch and Aerosense drone. Again, these are both examples of jumping into existing markets without really adding much. In 2019, Sony started an internal start accelerator who accepts ideas from anyone in the company, but that doesn’t mean much at this point.

Pragmatically, Sony’s best bet may be to focus on professionals, as Rubin suggests. It just makes more sense when you look at the company’s existing portfolio. But I’m also hoping Sony can take a page from Microsoft and capitalize on this potential success with industry-leading consumer products like Surface PCs. These devices weren’t always perfect, but they pushed the PC world to consider bold new designs, like detachable tablets and rotating screens. It may not be possible for Sony to relive its days of Walkman innovation, but it still has a chance to remind the tech world why it matters beyond video games and Spider-Man movies.

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