Sony lumbers after Apple but it’s not working

“In a windowless room near Sony’s headquarters in the Shinagawa district of Tokyo, shelves hold hundreds of versions of the Walkman – the portable cassette player that turned Sony into a global brand when it hit the market in 1979,” Joel Dreyfuss writes for Bloomberg News.

“Today, the Walkman Room is a shrine to Sony’s past. The world’s No.2 consumer electronics company – creator of the first transistor radio, the compact disc player and the PlayStation game console – is struggling in the digital age,” Dreyfuss writes. “‘A 20th-century business model is no guarantee of success,’ said Nobuyuki Idei, 66, Sony’s chief executive and chairman. ‘This is the biggest challenge, how to change.'”

“Almost two and a half years after Apple Computer unveiled its iPod music player, Sony announced its first iPod competitor, called the Vaio pocket, this month. The delay – and a yearlong lag in starting the Connect online music service after Apple’s iTunes Music Store set up shop – reflects how hard it is for the 58-year-old electronics behemoth to adjust to new rivals,” Dreyfuss writes.

“Howard Stringer, 62, Sony’s vice chairman and head of the company’s U.S. divisions, says executives were so concerned about music piracy that they couldn’t agree with designers on the kind of player to create,” Dreyfuss writes. “‘We didn’t get there, and by that time, Steve Jobs was there,’ said Stringer, referring to Apple’s CEO.

“In April, Apple reported that second-quarter profit had tripled from a year earlier to $46 million, after it sold 807,000 iPods. The plunge in Sony’s stock price (Missteps cost electronics giant $100 billion in market value) shows change is needed, said Nobuaki Murayama, an equities manager at Cigna International Investment Advisors K.K. in Tokyo. ‘The environment has changed,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t take much investment to develop products anymore, and Sony is seeing more and more competition.’

Full article here.


  1. Sell the content business. What a fracas! Actually, there’s a long list of media products that I’m waiting for and if Sony isn’t there then all the better for Apple.

  2. they’ll eventually get it right. sony makes great stuff. except that minidisc thing never took off in the u.s. why o why can i not download music from my minidisc via usb?

    didn’t sony also introduce betamax?

  3. If this isn’t proof of the damage to the music industry their paranoia is creating, then I’m a 750 pound Sumo Westler. It’s call intertia, Sony. You got it, and it’s destroying you! Microsoft is going to learn this lesson soon!

    There is no try, there is only do or don’t do. – Yoda

  4. SONY did license the Palm OS and various versions of Windows so they could have done the same with the iPod. I recall the president of SONY mentioning in a magazine interview that Steve Jobs was hard to work with. Perhaps the deal offered to HP was not good enough for SONY and they turned Apple down.

  5. Actually, Sony (or Suny as it was called then) didn’t introduce the first pocket transistor radio. A company in the U.S. by the name of Regency put out the first one I believe. As a kid I lusted after it but never could save enough to buy one.

  6. Philips and Sony were co-creators of the compact disc.

    An apocryphal sidenote: it’s believed that the first CDs were 74 minutes long due to the CEO of Sony’s love for a particular recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, which happened to be 74 minutes long…

  7. I would love to see Apple incorporate XML Satalite Radio into the ipod.
    Also turn the ipod into a wireless remote control for contoling itunes, imovie,
    iphoto ect….. Oh yeh, let me plug my isight into my ipod for a digital camera.
    Why else would they all have i”s

  8. rogozhin is correct. The CEO of Sony liked the Von Karajan conducted recording. During the early development Sony had started work using standard vinyl to be read by a laser. Someone, however, suggested a smaller disc. Incorporating satellite radio is not possible at this time as one needs an special antenna. Also, providing free music (OK, subscription) would be tantamount to giving up on iTunes. The whole idea is to own the music and to play what you want, when you want it and not be forced to listen to programming from somebody else.

  9. One other thing. XM and Sirius will be having competition in a year or two as terrestrial radio stations – the free ones, start converting to digital transmission. The sound will be as good as the satellite providers. Of course there will be commercials, but hey, it’s free.

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