Can Sony Win Again?
There's a great video report by Reuters on how Sony lost its cool. The question is: Can it get it back again?
The short answer is: Yes.
This is the dilemma of every company that focuses on "quality" and then commoditizes it into nothing. That's what happened at Sony. They lost their focus on creating exquisite, innovative products with an exquisite user experience and went for speed-to-market instead.
This was a multi-faceted mistake.
- First, for those who trusted the Sony brand, the company has as good as lost that trust - and it's WAY harder to regain trust than it is to establish it.
- Second, for those who didn't know the brand - most importantly, the young consumer - all they know is that Sony doesn't cut it in experience or innovation.
- Third, even while they were cutting their quality to near nothing, they kept their prices high.
What that left them with was a company that doesn't produce anything consumers can be excited about buying at too high a price to want to pay for it anyway.
Real good strategy, Sir Howard.
The good news is, the company is going back into the hands of the Japanese. Their new CEO, Kazuo Hirai, is a "detail" guy, according to Reuters - and that puts the Japanese right back into their comfort zone and where they perform best.
I worked with Sony before Sir Howard Stringer took over as CEO. Even then, they were looking with awe and envy at what the Silicon Valley was able to achieve - and rightly so.
But, what they forgot in the process is that they do things with their way of doing business that, demonstrably, take markets worldwide. But only when they work to their strength.
Can anyone say Toyota?
So, good luck Sony. I'm rooting for you to find your cool again.