A silent crises has been brewing in Japan. For the last few years, and maybe longer, Sony has been silently falling apart. Maybe it’s the fractal nature of the company’s demise that has made it so inconspicuous, because after reading Kotaku’s article by Jake Adelstein and Nathalie-Kyoko Stucky, it seems hard to make out any smoking gun.
In short it seems like a case of poor management and a little bit of old fashioned pride. The article is exceptionally researched so I won’t spend too much time on the details, but a forcing out of talent seems to have kick-started a downward spiral of proprietary technology, a lack of innovation, a loss of price-competition and outsourcing, and that’s not even the half of it. It’s eye-opening, and more than a little humbling to see such an integral part of the tech industry fumbling to catch itself, so if nothing else be sure to read this article as an insightful cautionary tale.
Here is an excerpt:
Mr. X, a former Sony executive, who now consults for the company, thinks he knows what has been the root of Sony’s failures.
“Sony has a great love for proprietary technology that isn’t shared in common with other electronic makers. Because it seeks to impose it’s standard as the industry standard, it often forces itself out of the market. They succeeded with Blu-Ray but digital downloading makes that a hollow victory. Who wants to buy a Blu-Ray when you can download a digital HD copy of your favorite movie from i-Tunes as soon as you want to see it?”
He has a point. . . .
In the kingdom of obsolete Sony products one in particular has a special place in the heart of the Japanese consumer.
Tomoaki Kamimura, 30, is an accountant in central Tokyo. . . .
“When the MDs came out, I remember I was proud to show my friend from Switzerland how small my discs were. We were very young, and she said she never saw such small discs. However, in Japan, we did not find many music albums in Mini-Discs. So it was quite trendy for a while, but then we forgot about it. Now, I have a collection of useless MDs at my parents’ cellar in Chiba,” he reminisces almost sadly, and then adds, “I store all my music in my iPhone now.”