Howard Stringer's last chance to save Sony

Richard Siklos:
The culprit in nearly every case has been Sony's tradition-bound mentality, one that remained too focused on building excellent analog machines in an increasingly digital world. And though Stringer has been pushing for transformation since his first days in the top job, by his own admission he has been hamstrung by the management culture in Sony's home market and the repercussions of bad decisions made years ago that still haunt the company.
1. Sell Ericsson. 2. Build a unified smartphone platform that supports PSP games. 3. Guarantee that every single Sony product works in the same ecosystem, preferably through open standards.
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8 Responses to Howard Stringer's last chance to save Sony

  1. Oddball says:

    I agree with Astin on the Memory Stick nonsense. I would have probably bought one of their PDA’s (when they still made them) if they accepted SD cards and I instantly dismissed their cameras because of their use of Memory Sticks. Oddly enough, I’m looking at buying an ebook reader and thinking about going with the Sony PRS-505 over the Kindle because it does accept SD cards.

  2. danilo says:

    Good prescription, but it needs to go further:

    Sony needs to build or buy an absurdly talented user experience group and put them to work making sure that:

    – the software that supports Sony product doesn’t completely disappoint anyone who has actually used a computer in the last five years
    – the ecosystem integration actually happens in a pro-customer, non-pocket-lining douchebag way
    – products make the user happy, instead of making Sony engineers or moneymen happy

    Sony has preferred their own satisfaction over the happiness of their customers going back as far as betamax. They’ve succeeded in spite of their indifference to the people who feed them through aggressive marketing and superb hardware engineering. Solid hardware QA also doesn’t hurt.

    They’re coming to a point now where many other players can not only deliver on marketing and hardware, but also the many other things Sony never bothered to be good at.

    As game-changing as a smartphone platform could be for Sony, they’ve never demonstrated anywhere in their history that they could build the software or developer support necessary for such an endeavor.

  3. sworm says:

    Good hardware isn’t enough. The software & drivers should preferably not want make consumers want to commit suicide.

  4. Joakim says:

    Sony doesn’t own Ericsson. The company SonyEricsson is a joint venture between Sony and Ericsson.

    Oh and they should ditch symbian.

  5. Chris S says:

    Sony built their repuation (and, back then, their profits) by maximizing the user experience — NO MATTER WHERE THE CONTENT CAME FROM! Back in the “analog day”, this meant radios, televions, and Sony devices in general that had great features and great performance. Beta grew out of those traditions, but the moment they started trying to control where blank tape went, the were headed down the same path as Edison and the General Film Company monopoly. Remember, Edison was just trying to bring stability to the movie industry! [1]

    Sony might be able to learn from owning a movie studio, but if the benefits to the end user don’t spread to all movies – ubiquity – then your customers will stay away in droves. They don’t want a great experience for your content and a lousy experience for everyone else’s.

    Here’s my test. I tell people that the next Sony cameras will refuse to take pictures if there is a trademark visible in the image. And the usual reaction? People aren’t sure it’s possible – but never once have I had someone say that Sony wouldn’t *want* to do that. This is bad news – Sony’s customers increasingly believe that Sony cares about them *last*.

    Along this line, an integrated digital underpinning may sound like a “great experience”, but to me it sounds like “pay Sony to be see on Sony TVs”. That recipe is doomed, and the sooner they figure it out, the better.

    [1: ]

  6. Astin says:

    - Admit memory stick is a dead format and go with SD like everyone else.

    – If at first your proprietary format fails… give up and go with the winner.

    – When your early adopters and pre-release followers speak in a loud voice about what a terrible design choice or hardware useability error you’ve made, fix it.

    – Stop calling things “exclusive” when they’ll be out on a competing platform in 2 weeks.

    – Realize your product isn’t as good as you think it is and price it accordingly. If I can pick up a Panasonic or Yamaha device that is better AND cheaper? You lose.

    – Make sure my other stuff can plug into your stuff, and vice versa.

    – Let your left and right hands speak to one another.

  7. iRoy says:

    With sub $99 Bluray players now appearing Sony have more problems as the PS3 will really stand out as hyper expensive.

  8. dr says:

    Sony is doing OK. I bought SNE just a few months ago at around 18, it is up to 26. Their competitors (like Panasonic) haven’t been noticeably better.

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