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What if SONY Had Maintained Its Lead in Technology like Apple and Google Have?

What if SONY Had Maintained Its Lead in Technology like Apple and Google Have?

Clovis69

It still has a huge lead in consumer electronics. Soy remains the largest video game console company and the largest video game publisher as well as the largest music publisher & second largest record label and the third largest film studio. 55 percent market share in the image sensor market, Sony is the largest manufacturer of image sensors, the second largest camera manufacturer, and is among the semiconductor sales leaders as well as the world's largest player in the premium TV market for a television of at least 55 inches (140 centimeters).


Particular-Wedding

Follow up - SONY got its lead in video games DESPITE the Japanese bureaucracy and corporate culture. Not because of it. Ken Kutaragi, the SONY executive in charge of the Playstation rollout had to develop his plans in secret. When the execs found out about it they were furious with him for "squandering" company resources in their view. It did not help that he was very abrasive and had a brash demeanor that made him enemies: [https://www.polygon.com/2018/11/26/18080492/playstation-history-ken-kutaragi-sony](https://www.polygon.com/2018/11/26/18080492/playstation-history-ken-kutaragi-sony) *"“\[There’s a word in Japanese called\] nemawashi ... it literally means, when you replant a tree, you dig around the roots gradually in a circle around the tree and then you lift it up,” adds Guth. “You don’t just grab it by the trunk and yank it. You have to spend some time, \[do\] some spade work to work around the tree, but then you can just lift it up. And in Japanese business, this has the meaning of, in order to make a decision, before a decision’s made, you need to go around to all the constituents individually and get their buy-in. And go out drinking, have meetings, get to know them and start to pull them into the direction you want to go, or get them to say yes to the decision you want made. And then, by the time there’s an official meeting — where you’re yanking the tree out, so to speak — it’s already been done, and so it’s just ceremonial almost. And that’s how you get things done in Japan, still to this day. You don’t just drive through the middle. And if Ken had done a classic course of nemawashi, I don’t think we would know — the word ‘PlayStation’ wouldn’t be in our vocabulary.”"*


blaspheminCapn

Well, and Nintendo effed them pretty hard in public by going with Philco after starting to work with Sony. So there's that revenge part of it too.


Mehhish

Nintendo bailed out for a good reason, because of the contract, Sony was going to make more money than Nintendo. I think Sony would have gotten all profits from CD game sales. Though, the way Nintendo killed the contract, by backstabbing Sony was fucked up on Nintendo's part.


Particular-Wedding

That is true but at the turn of the century they had so much more promise. They surrendered a lot of market share to companies like Apple, Microsoft, and even the rising crowd of Google and Facebook which are developing their own 3d game publisher platform devices.


Clovis69

In hindsight they made strategic errors in the music player market to Apple, but at the time... iPod was not widely adopted at first, it's ties to the Macintosh ecosystem and reliance on Firewire as the connection bus limited it. Critically, reviews were mixed, with the MiniDisk still considered a better technology. Now to phones, again, the iPhone and it's form factor was not considered the way forward when iPhone was introduced, so I'm not sure how pushing that form factor to Sony earlier would equal success. They did give up market share to Microsoft in the console space, but the NA console market had traditionally been a three or four way split - Sega's failure with Dreamcast left a gap in there for Microsoft to get into with Xbox. Google and Facebook have nothing to do with Sony's marketshare other than Google and phones which like iPhone is a new form factor that folks dithered on for a few years before it went wide


Kiyohara

> Critically, reviews were mixed, with the MiniDisk still considered a better technology. And to mention Minidisc is *still* prevalent in Japan and was a major system for years after the iPod hit. Avoiding the iPod was actually a great career move from Sony's perspective until much later.


Particular-Wedding

I disagree. Google and Facebook are video game developers and publishers in their own right. The Occulus for FB is taking rapid mkt share in 3d device growth. Sony had its own 3d rollout in thr ps4 but that has failed. Fb also is a publisher of many games and taking a pg from Sony by subsidizing the hardware costs. Google has their play store which is integrated with mobile and chromebook devices. They are also a publisher. Sony had the chance to run a chrome book like line of laptops but decided to focus on the high end instead for business customers. They had turned up their noses at the thoughts of making mobile app driven games and devices.


Clovis69

If we are talking changes that have to start in 1999, then Facebook and Google are non-entities, they don't exist at all. The only 3D gaming example of the 1990s was the Virtual Boy which had failed.


TIFUPronx

Maybe get Sony into acquiring some small Silicon Valley companies and make 'em famous? Say, if Oculus were bought out by Sony instead of Facebook a lot more people would probably buy it as long as it doesn't have some DRM and other stuff restricting it.


osteologation

Really? I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a Sony TV. Generally Samsung, Vizio, LG, or generic cheap brand IME. Also I can’t remember seeing a Panasonic TV in forever and they used to be super common.


Bartisgod

Sony and Panasonic kept their price and quality levels, everyone else moved downmarket to sell huge TVs for ~$300 that are full of ads and break after like 4 months, then everyone else dominated as Sony and Panasonic became luxury items because rents tripled within 5 years, and used car prices never went back down much after doubling during 2008. I'd still rather be in the position of having profit margin with small market share vs, like LG or Vizio, leading the market while making like 5¢ per TV. If leading a middle class lifestyle now means you have to be in the top 5-10% by income, as a successful company I'm going to serve that 5-10% and not waste my time or money on anyone else. They can buy my stuff used, or be the bottom my competitors race to.


osteologation

Interesting, I’m in market for a new tv Will have to research that, my vizio was a turd.


Zerkom122

definitely try and go sony. I have a sony tv with over 45,000 hours on it still running strong.


LaoTze151

I bought a Panasonic PX80 back in 2009.. It still works very good!


Particular-Wedding

Toshiba is another company of lost opportunities.


OperationMobocracy

Sony’s real problem was Sony Entertainment. This got Sony involved with DRM, which it began using to cripple its products. Minidisc was revolutionary, but it also was crippled with DRM in an era where everyone wanted unencrypted MP3s. If Sony stays out of the entertainment business and takes a passive role in DRM, only implementing what the larger consumer electronics industry agrees to but generally staying consumer friendly it keeps its momentum.


Full_contact_chess

Good point. I remember the big brew around Fallout 4 introducing modding for its game on consoles about five years ago. Xbox said "great lets do it" while Sony bickered about demanding the game company ensured mods that impacted its intellectual properties owned by its entertainment divisions were not allowed to be accessed on its platform (i.e no mods that let you dress up the game character as Spiderman and such). At one point the game studio (Bethesda) just threw up its hands and said "ok, no mods for Playstation". Eventually this situation was rectified but it did lose Sony a bit of goodwill from the consumer base for almost costing them the opportunity to enjoy mods due to their obsessiveness in regards to controlling \*any\* potential infringement of their branded entertainment products. I don't know what the actual impact to their sales were but I remember some people on reddit stating their decision to purchase an Xbox was influenced by Sony's attitude in this matter.


OperationMobocracy

The electronics industry basically decided (or figured out, you choose) that hardware was a commodity race to the bottom industry and that they needed hardware + lockin to some content/software where the real money was made. Maybe I don't remember, but I think the console hardware itself is almost sold at a loss to get people into the ecosystem for the software/network services. It's not super clear to me what Sony as a consumer electronics company would have been like regardless. They rocked in the mid-1980s when "made in Japan" was synonymous with cool and high quality products. Even if they stay out front and don't submarine their products with DRM, they would be facing a ton of competition as China came on line and Korean brands got big. Plus the old school living room stack of amplifier, tape deck, phonograph, CD, VCR, DVD, TV is kind of a dying breed. People now have their phone, a TV (*maybe*, tons of people in their 20s just use their laptop or PC display) and at best a sound bar or something. That's a bunch of products even loyal Sony buyers are not buying anymore. Even then, Sony *almost* pulled it all off. They had above-average Vaio laptops and they were in the phone business for a while. If somehow Sony had made the iPhone and it had some synergy with Vaio laptops? We could seriously not be talking about Apple right now, except as a legacy product, and Sony would be the juggernaut with the market for high-quality computers, phones, video displays, and audio products with almost no competition except for low-priced China crap or weird, businessy products from Dell.


Particular-Wedding

Even worse we are stuck with low grade HP products....


Kiyohara

> They rocked in the mid-1980s when "made in Japan" was synonymous with cool and high quality products. I remember business magazines my dad used to get that were filled with cool and new technology from Japan. Some of it was prototypes, some was actually adverts for goods, and some was speculation on things that might be coming out. It's interesting that a lot of the prospective tech they discussed in 1985 is now common place to one degree or another.


Obiwan_Salami

a bigger question would be "what if RCA had..."


OperationMobocracy

Curtis Mathes. Somebody needs to make Curtis Mathes the world leader in video displays.


PrincessSporus

Sony has maintained their lead, they just don’t have a mobile OS like Apple and Google do.