Japanese electronics firms: Eclipsed by Apple

“Investors have put Sony’s bosses under pressure to do something about the company’s chronically poor performance,” The Economist reports. “It has lost money in five of the past six years and is forecasting a further loss in the year to March 2015.”

“Vaio is the most significant business Sony has quit in recent times. Cutting it adrift may be the start of a far-reaching reorganisation,” The Economist reports. “On the same day the firm shifted its loss-making televisions arm, once the core of its profits and brand image, into a separate legal entity. For now, Sony’s chief executive, Kazuo Hirai, rules out an outright sale, and many people criticise him for not acting more drastically. Yet the firm admits that an alliance with another television-maker could be an option.”

“After years of denial that surgery was needed, optimism is rising that Japan’s consumer-electronics firms are facing up to their steady loss of global market share. In 1982 we published a briefing on how ‘The giants in Japanese electronics’ were set to keep conquering the world with all manner of exciting new gadgets: Video cameras! Fax machines! CD players! And they did, for a while,” The Economist reports. “But now they all struggle to compete in the most important categories of consumer electronics against rivals such as Samsung of South Korea and especially Apple of the United States.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David G.” for the heads up.]

29 Comments

  1. It is my view that Sony never decided it needed to get serious about designing and controlling their own user interfaces.

    They simply didn’t see or apparently care what Apple was doing in designing better software.

    1. It doesn’t matter if they were serious or not. The Japanese in general have always been horrible on the user interface side of things. This is why there was an opening for Apple to begin with.

      The same thing holds true today for the Koreans as well, Samsung included. I actually really like my Samsung TVs as far as the quality of the picture, but the interface on the smart TV side stinks. And why can’t any Asian company make a TV remote that doesn’t suck?

    2. & on ‘designing better software’, Sony has farmed out things, like with their so-called ‘Sony root kit’ about 8 years ago.

      Now that really did undercut Sony’s brand, yet I don’t recall hearing of any fired execs myself. So the incompetents stayed on board.

  2. One big fat solution I freely offer Sony:

    Get Rid Of Marketing-As-Management!

    When you put a marketing executive in charge of your company and you’ve committed your company to SUICIDE. I watched it first hand at Kodak. The same damnable thing is happening right now at Sony. I would rather that both of these companies had continued to thrive. But once marketing people are put in charge, it takes a near miracle to turn it around. Apple pulled it off with the return of Steve Jobs! It can be done. But better to avoid the horror in the first place.

    Best option: Go for entrepreneurial management every time. They’re a PITA but they consistently drive a company forward.

    1. Correction, sigh: “When you put a marketing executive in charge of your company, COMMA, [not ‘and’] you’ve committed your company to…

      I’m waiting for my dinner to nuke. I have to stop writing while I’m hungry. Sorry.

          1. Yes, I have learnt that since I became a temporary resident! Much ado about the sauces, much debate about briquets & air quality! Who knew? Also, how come only men know how to BBQ?

            1. It’s all good but I agree with everything you just said. Without the sauces and marinades it would be nothing. BBQ truly elevates the quality of life. Oh man just had a couple of margaritas and I’m snockered in a good wayl Have a great evening all my MDN droogy brothahs!

            2. @ hannahjs, ug! ug, ug!!!
              Ever since my ancestor came across a burnt out stegosaur and decided to eat some of it, men have tried and successfully harnessed fire to bar-b-q every creature under the sun!

              Meanwhile Ursula Ug, was in a cave giving birth to Ulnas Ugg!.

        1. Actually, I shared two barbecues with the neighbors this past week as well as four days worth of barbecued chicken I made myself. Therefore, I’m breaking out the frozen pasta tonight. Thank you for thinking of me, dear goddess. I hope you are having a ripping good week!

            1. I have to head over to the local coop for kale where I live, sadly. But I’ll heed her advice! Otherwise, I get the greenest leafy stuff I can stand eating for my salads. I also love red leafy stuff.

  3. No OS no can do, imagine where the Asian companies would be if Google hadn’t given them a free OS. Up shit creek. What Google did is more traitorous to American tech than anything anyone has done in 40 years.

    1. As a long-time Apple shareholder I’d much rather Google had not given away Android. But as an avid iPhone user I have to believe that the iPhone is better now than it would have been without Android existing.

      1. I’d suggest that a truism is not necessarily true… in this case, the one about competition.

        Steve didn’t need competition to create the iPhone, in the first place. Some people are outstanding because they are outstanding. They don’t need others “competing” to want to do that. The company he built continues the tradition.

        Also – the logic falls down. The iPhone is not better because others produce lesser quality wanna-be iPhones. How does that drive excellence? I’d propose Tim and Co. want to keep getting better… and that they’d still want to do that even if all other phone companies produced the rubbish they were producing ten years ago.

          1. “but you’d be going against the history of the world and human nature in general”

            Indeed I would. But we could produce a huge list of people who do just that. Not huge numerically, compared to billions, but huge in effect on society. Those people didn’t need competition to be like that. Neither did Steve. And I suspect he surrounded himself with a group of people who had a strong streak of the same.

            Yes, some excellence is produced in the crucible of competition. Absolutely. But plenty more is produced where there is no competition at all – where the scientist, business person, athlete, artist is already WAY outside the pack.

  4. Just this week Mitsubishi took over management of Union Bank. (They’ve owned them for a number of years)
    Employees at one of Union Banks corporate headquarters were told ahead of time that at the part of the meeting when corporate managers from Japan asked for input, employees were to KEEP QUIET. It was important that Japanese corporate managers maintain the image they wanted input and ideas from employees, but in reality you were expected be respectful and not say anything.
    That’s just part of their culture.

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