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Sony Businesses

Sony's New CEO To Look Beyond Hardware 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the somewhere-out-there dept.
angry tapir writes "Sony's new CEO says the company needs to move on from its hardware roots. From its inception, the company has defined itself through its gadget lines — Walkman, Vaio, Cyber-shot, PlayStation — but incoming CEO Kazuo Hirai, who will officially lead the company from April, says Sony must now focus more on the software and platforms they access. He said he wants to model the company after its successful PlayStation gaming business, which he helped turn around, where 'hardware drives software, and software drives hardware, and it's all tied in by the network.' Sony is forecasting nearly US$3 billion in losses for the fiscal year through March."
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Sony's New CEO To Look Beyond Hardware

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  • They have far more success with their software anyway. Look at how well Star Wars: Galaxies is doing!
    • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Informative)

      by houstonbofh (602064) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:34PM (#39020337)
      On the PlayStation, yes. There you have no choice. But on the PC? Especially with all the good press from the Sony software installed on PCs in the past... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootkit_scandal [wikipedia.org] http://techreport.com/discussions/13096 [techreport.com] They will have a hard time overcoming this with a lot of users. It is actually a factor in the hardware losses they have had.
      • Forget the rootkit,

        Every Vaio laptop I have bought and configured with a windows env (yikes) needs half a day of scrubbing to remove all the idiotic sony Vaio programs, services or UIs... And then you have the addware that comes pre installed... Plainly it is easier to buy a retail version of windows and slap it on than going through all the pain. In all fairness though Vaio's, as long as I can remember them, seem to be sturdier designs than cheaper alternatives and often have better screens also. But the s

        • For the future... http://pcdecrapifier.com/ [pcdecrapifier.com] Sony may be the worst, but it is in a crowded field...
        • Which reminds me. I was looking (just looking) at laptops the other day, and spent some time checking out the Vaio. As a programmer, I like memory, but couldn't get it to configure for more than 8 GB (for a new laptop, that's deal-breaker). Do they make a laptop that accepts 16-32 GB of ram?

          • sorry, was not logged here on the touchpad. I mean it, really. Even for a windows machine, today a MacBook pro is a way better choice than the Sony. Sony used to be good hardware two decades ago. Now is just shit. You are better with an hp , which is admittedly shitty, for half the price of a vaio , and then replace it earlier.

            or stick with the mac os and have some thing adware-free from the beginning, with free ide, compiler and a lot of other software that is actually useful.

      • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by whoever57 (658626) on Monday February 13, 2012 @02:21PM (#39021955) Journal

        But on the PC? Especially with all the good press from the Sony software installed on PCs in the past... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_BMG_copy_protection_rootkit_scandal [wikipedia.org] http://techreport.com/discussions/13096 [techreport.com]

        I don't think many consumers are aware of the rootkit fiasco. Some time ago, I spoke to someone who worked for Sony, selling professional TV studio equipment -- he had not heard of the rootkit fiasco. If the employees haven't heard of the issue, why would the general population?

        On the other hand, Sony used to build premium products and charge premium prices for them. I recall reading (during the late '80s I think) that Sony was the most valuable brand name in the world. Now they build cr*p and still charge premium prices. They also make those devices even more expensive for consumers by using proprietary add-ons such as Sony memory sticks. Consumers have started to notice those things. Sony was living off its valuable brand name for years, but now that train has hit the buffers.

  • by laffer1 (701823) <luke@NOspaM.foolishgames.com> on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:02PM (#39019865) Homepage Journal

    Sony is just too conservative and unwilling to invest to be successful in the software business. 90% of their time will be spent locking down systems and adding DRM. They won't build what the customer wants.

    • by Theophany (2519296) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:08PM (#39019949)
      Not to mention that their software is universally shite, relative to competitors. They've seen Apple's successful walled garden model and want in, difference is that Apple are a software company and Sony, most certainly, are not.
      • They've seen Apple's successful walled garden model and want in

        Historically, PlayStation has been even less open than iOS. The walled garden model popularized by Apple's App Store actually appeared first in Xbox Live Indie Games, an alternative to Xbox Live Arcade for individuals and small family businesses without the requirement of a secure office and "industry experience". Does SCE plan to introduce anything like XBLIG any time soon?

        • Does SCE plan to introduce anything like XBLIG any time soon?

          You mean like this [ign.com]?

          • by Narishma (822073)

            I think that's equivalent to XBLA, not XBLIG. As far as I know, Sony doesn't have any equivalent to XBLIG or the App Store.

        • by ilguido (1704434)
          What? App Store developed from iTunes Store, XBLIG has nothing to do with it. By the way XBLIG/XBLA is a half-baked rip-off of Steam: 2DBoy (creators of World of Goo) made this interesting survey about XBLA [2dboy.com]. Actually PSN is more open than XBLA, as in "more accessible".

          Surely their objective is something like iTunes, that is something that appeals a snobbish crowd, and not a XBLA, that is the Zune of the online store services.
          • by tepples (727027)

            What? App Store developed from iTunes Store, XBLIG has nothing to do with it.

            Even if you acknowledge that the 30% cut in the App Store developed from the 30% cut in the iTunes Store, that still leaves the $99 per year up-front fee for running your own programs on your own hardware. It appeared in XNA Creators Club (which is now called App Hub) before it appeared in iOS.

      • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:28PM (#39020253) Journal

        Apple is not a software company. Apple is a Marketing company that has software and hardware tied for second place.

        Still, they put more focus on doing those things right than Sony does.

        Also, Sony seriously needs to improve their customer service, being on top of the 'worst in the business' pile is NOT the top of the pile you want.

        • by StikyPad (445176)

          That's only true if the people buying Playstations/devices are their customers. Since Sony seems to make most/all of their money on licensing fees from developers, I'm betting end users are *not* the people Sony considers to be their customers.

        • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Monday February 13, 2012 @01:43PM (#39021275)

          I know it's popular to call Apple "a marketing company" around here, but it's gotten ridiculous. What started as a very sarcastic cheap shot has somehow become an accepted truth. Last time I checked, Apple makes their money by selling computers, phones, and other hardware. They make a little off software, too. I'm pretty sure if Apple somehow lost their iPhone market, they wouldn't be able to offset the loss by selling t-shirts with their logo on it.

          But, yes, Sony could learn a lot from Apple's marketing strategies.

          • First time I have heard Apple being called a marketing company but I would assume it is because, at least in the mobile hardware side, they don't actually make anything. I have no idea where their PCs are made of if they actually own that production or if it is all OEM/ODM as well.

          • by Solandri (704621) on Monday February 13, 2012 @03:17PM (#39022961)
            No, what you're describing is the public perception. What he's describing is the reality. Most of the big-name "computer manufacturers" aren't really hardware manufacturers. Apple's laptops are designed and made by Quanta [wikipedia.org]. Apple gives them some guidelines and requests some modifications, but the design and manufacturing is done by Quanta. Ever wonder why some of the HP laptops look a lot like MacBooks? It's not because HP is copying Apple. Quanta is also the primary original design manufacturer [wikipedia.org] for HP. Literally the same Taiwanese people who designed and manufactured the Macbooks also designed and manufactured those HPs.

            The same goes for other products. The iPod and iPad by now I think most people know are made by Foxconn. Who designs them is still uncertain. The big name sellers and the OEMs/ODMs are very reluctant to publicly discuss who makes what. The CPUs in their mobile devices are made by Samsung, though it looks like Apple is burning that bridge and is trying to design their very own ARM CPU for their next gen products.

            So Apple is essentially a middle-man. Someone who comes up with an idea, hires a outside companies to work out the design details and manufacturing, then assembles and imports it, and sells it under their brand name. A parts assembler. A marketing company. Many other companies you may think are hardware companies do this too. IBM used to make their Thinkpads in-house, but as near as I can tell Lenovo has outsourced most of their laptop production to ODMs. A lot of Sony's low-end and mid-grade laptops are made the same way. Dell just orders the different parts of their desktop computers, and assembles them before shipping it off to you.

            But some of them do have their own design, fab, and production facilities. Dell designs their own motherboards and cases (and tests them pretty extensively - it's extraordinarily difficult to put together a custom PC that's as quiet as a Dell business desktop). Sony's high-end laptops are designed and built at their facilities in Japan. The same for the sensors for their cameras, which they also sell to other companies (most of the other digital camera "manufacturers" use Sony sensors - a huge opportunity Kodak missed because they didn't have silicon fabbing experience). So they're very much a hardware company.

            I'd characterize Apple as a software and online services company first (OS X, iOS, and iTunes are their bread and butter), marketing/assembling second, and hardware a distant third.
            • Some homework here is needed. In your argument, who uses 5 out of the 7 ODMs to manufacture their gear is an original designer and apple, who has been developing not only their own designs since forever, but even developing the basic materials and production process, is a marketing company.

              I could cite a lot of things, but some not that old examples are the glass screen, the unibody, the glass trackpad (and the trackpad itself) and the magsafe. Granted, they probably don't manufacture anything anymore, but

          • by arose (644256)
            It's as true as the well worn "you are the product". There is some truth to it, but it's dressed in hyperbole.
        • by grumpyman (849537)
          Apple is not a marketing company. Marketing is not Apple's business. They sell software and hardware. You can say they generate business using a lot of marketing dollar, or is very effective in marketing, but that doesn't make them a marketing company. FWIW, Google is a marketing company.
        • by YoopDaDum (1998474) on Monday February 13, 2012 @02:25PM (#39022035)
          Apple is a system and user experience company, and has been since the Lisa and first Mac. We people in Slashdot care about implementation details, but most people don't. Apple is better than the average at shielding the users from the implementation details and providing a comfortable and easy user experience.
          They're also good at marketing, but their approach there is not recent and was not enough initially to have mass appeal --- although you can say they had a cult following from the early days, just much more limited.

          The difference between the early days and now is not so much in the Apple approach, but in the price points they can target and people attitude.

          Shielding people for low level tech details used to be a very expensive thing in the early days of the Mac, and few could afford it. Nowadays providing a nice user experience is a multimedia player, then a smartphone or tablet, can be done at a lower price point. Even if Apple is often seen as more expensive, it's still affordable to more and more people. Their computers too are more affordable than in days past. So they can reach more people.

          At the same time, technology is more and more pervasive. We (/.) may get a kick out of it and enjoy all those new nice toys and don't care about getting our hands dirty. But most people are mightily confused and frustrated and bored. So they're more and more receptive to easy products, that allows them to get their things down with minimal fuss and understanding of the underlying technology. Nobody likes to feel backward or stupid and be frustrated in front of a high tech product they don't know how to use properly. Apple offer a product they get, and they feel good about it. That creates a lot of loyalty among technophobic people, and even among people who could handle it, but don't want to bother because they have other things to do.

          That's IMHO the combination of both that gives the current Apple boom. As I see it these two trends are here to stay, so Apple will stay high until other companies manage to shield people from high tech complications as well as Apple but at a lower price point.
        • by Krneki (1192201)
          You mean slave service?

          I dare you to name one Sony software product that doesn't treat a customer as a slave.

      • Compared to who? Sony's first part line-up is infinitely superior to Microsoft's and a strong second to Nintendo. They're responsible for some of the greatest games of recent times (shadow of the colossus, Ico, Uncharted) Their garden is far more open than on the xbox too. For starters you can actually freely surf the net on a PS3. Both the PS3 and PSP are region-free. Their ebook readers are more open than Kindle. But hey go ahead and prove they're more of a walled garden than their competitors otherwise y
    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:42PM (#39020427)
      Not to mention that they have zero consumer trust in their software, after two different rootkit fiascos.
      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Or their online services. I thought about resubscribing to Everquest a while ago, but then I thought do I really want to give my credit card details to crackers? So I didn't.

    • > They won't build what the customer wants.

      Precisely. How the hell is a consumer able to brick their $1,000 [LCD] TV by flashing the wrong firmware??

      Sony is a hardware company that doesn't understand software NOR user experience. Microsoft is software company that doesn't understand hardware. Apple is a hardware + software + user experience company.

      Sony doesn't have a clue how to build beautiful UI's - they are "engineer's UI's."

      • by Guppy (12314)

        Microsoft is software company that doesn't understand hardware.

        I dunno. If their peripherals (like their optical mice) had been created by any smaller company, we would have considered that company's hardware to be pretty damn good. It's only because Microsoft is so enormous that accomplishments like the IntelliEye disappear in comparison.

    • by sirroc (1157745)

      Except that for the most part; they did give the customer a ton of options with the PS3. If I so wanted I can use any bluetooth headset or keyboard I want, any 2.5" SATA HDD. any USB keyboard, any USB external HDD. Perhaps that is why Ken Kutaragi was given the boot; as they saw the line on accessory margins and died a little inside.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:04PM (#39019881)

    I've had a PS3 since 2007 and have never created a playstation network account (which I'm quite glad about now given recent events). Its purely a gaming machine and thats all it'll ever be. If I want some sort of lifestyle/media server I've got my PC which is a lot better at it.

    • by Anrego (830717) *

      Been my experience (as an unfortunate PS3 owner) that most games are built assuming network connectivity. Most can be played fine without it, but in a lot of cases you miss out on features, (important) updates, and downloadable content (which I actually have no problem with.. if they wern't using piss-poor security when dealing with the customer data).

      I do totally agree on the whole "I just want a game console" thing though. Luckily most of that cruft is easy to ignore.

      • by Nursie (632944)

        if they wern't using piss-poor security when dealing with the customer data

        Piss poor security? That implies they'd try to protect it.

        The latest version of their online network "SEN", that replaces PSN, has an agreement which states that they can and will give your data to whatever third parties they wish, and if you disagree then you get no service.
        I cannot agree to this. I don't know what happens if you update to the new firmware that brings this change and then refuse the T&Cs, but I can't accept them

  • Ok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:05PM (#39019903)

    Hardware is becoming generic and software is becoming critical. Software should at least be a big part of the plan. Sounds reasonable enough to me.

    I'd rage about Sony evilness ... but that would be offtopic (and I'm sure there will be plenty of that anyway by people much more serious about it than me!).

    • by TWX (665546)

      That argument has been made for decades and has never been proven. Both are interrelated and innovations in either impact the other.

      IMHO, Sony should get back to quality comsumer and commercial products again. Format changes have demonstrated that there is always a new market in media players, and people will spend their money if they think the device will do what they expect.

      • Format changes have demonstrated that there is always a new market in media players

        But after 1080p Blu-ray and 1080p Internet VOD, both of which a PS3 and several other BD players can already handle easily, what's the next format for noninteractive video? I don't see a great leap in media formats like the leap from VHS to DVD or from discs to Internet VOD in the near future, nor even a minor resolution improvement like DVD to BD or 480p VOD to 1080p VOD. Nor do I see 2160p (aka 4K) displays becoming affordable any time soon, especially given that people just recently upgraded to 1080p com

        • by TWX (665546)

          High end consumers have often wanted something unaffordable or unavailable to the masses. In the eighties it was Laserdisc. For a time in the nineties it was DVD, and for while recently it was 1080p Blu-Ray. For awhile it will be 3d Blu-Ray, but that is also coming to the masses.

          I predict that movie-theatre-resolution home video will be the next thing. It'll take a few years and will probably start out literally with professional projectors in homes, and then someone will make a high-end consumer-grade

  • Well yea (Score:2, Insightful)

    They need to focus more on developing better and more intrusive rootkits in their devices.
    • No, that is fine. They need more time in testing for stability. If the crap was stable, no one would have actually noticed it. And that is the scary part, and why I have no Sony software on anything I own.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:08PM (#39019953)

    Maybe Sony hardware used to be worth the premium, way back when, but nowadays they are just trading on their reputation.

    I had a Sony Viao laptop for years. It was OK, nothing wrong with it, but equally there was nothing so amazingly right with it that it was worth the huge pricetag - the same spec laptop with another brand label on it would have been just as good at 2/3 the price. It's a shame, because there is room in a market for a gadget manufacturer that sets itself apart from the competition by offering superior reliability / build quality / robustness.

    I think customers have been catching on to this the last few years, and Sony's hardware sales have dropped as a result.

    • by Anrego (830717) *

      Indeed. Seems to be the case in all their products.

      Sony used to be a name to be reckoned with. They were like DeWalt or Bose .. you could probably get the same quality for less if you knew what you were doing, but Sony was a safe choice and worth the extra money to know you were getting something decent.

      Now, they are just on par with everyone else.. and as you said.. people have noticed.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        ony used to be a name to be reckoned with. They were like DeWalt or Bose ..

        Bose is still a name to be reckoned with. Their stuff still sounds good. But it's not a faithful reproduction. DeWalt, on the other hand, is now a mid- to bottom-tier brand. Same with Bosch, and many other names which used to be exalted in tools. Even Craftsman, which was always known for being "pretty good" has compromised quality visibly. Got to compete with that unbranded China stuff.

        • by Anrego (830717) *

          That's depressing. I've been looking to replace some of my workshop equiptment. :(

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Milwaukee is still good, and while Delta has also visibly compromised quality (stuff is smaller and lighter which is NOT a good thing in a workbench tool, especially) they still seem to make stuff OK. I pretty much buy everything used now and just expect to replace brushes and clean comms. Yard sailing FTW. Got a delta 10" miter with rotating table for $10. Got a vintage craftsman molding cutter for $20. Got a newer Model 77 skilsaw for $10 with a broken handle, cord, and switch and swapped the handle and c

        • by EdZ (755139)
          Bose is a name to be reckoned with, but only the name. Their actual equipment is pretty mediocre, dead average, but priced as if it were premium equipment. You're paying 5x/10x the price for the badge, nothing more (hence the common apocryphal backronym Buy Other Sound Equipment).
    • by unixisc (2429386) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:17PM (#39020103)
      The brand name meant something when it actually was made in Japan. Once they started outsourcing to China, like everyone else, there's no reason to pay more for them than anyone else.
      • by 0123456 (636235)

        The brand name meant something when it actually was made in Japan.

        My last camcorder was a Sony made in Japan, because my previous two Sonys had lasted for many years before I replacde them (in fact I'm using the TRV900 I bought in 1999 now because it's still working). That didn't stop it from frying its main board shortly after the warranty ran out due to a design fault in the power circuitry.

        My next camcorder will not be Sony.

      • The brand name meant something when it actually was made in Japan. Once they started outsourcing to China, like everyone else, there's no reason to pay more for them than anyone else.

        This.

        My 8-year-old "made in Japan" Sony VAIO A117S laptop still runs fine, with its original 1.7GHz Pentium M, 1GiB memory, Radeon Mobility 9?00 (the label and all the marketing says 9700, but it reports itself as 9600), and gorgeous 1920x1200 17" LCD. We replaced the disk with a larger capacity model[*] about a year ago, because the 80GB original had become just too small (but was still running fine). That laptop has been our "kitchen PC" for 4 years and is used regularly for all sorts of stuff - browsi

      • by grumpyman (849537)
        A local electronics repairman responded to my comment similar to yours is "it's not because they're made in China, it's because what the company wants them to build." I think iPhone/iPad are pretty robust.
        • by whoever57 (658626)

          I think iPhone/iPad are pretty robust.

          Tell that to my daughter who dropped her iPod Touch two feet onto carpet which resulted in a broken touchscreen.

    • by El Torico (732160)
      Samsung is the new Sony. Now Sony's going to try the same thing as everyone else.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Most if not all Vaios are garbage. When everyone else was using ATI or moving to nVidia they were still using Neomagic. They are worse at providing drivers for operating systems you didn't buy the computer with than anyone else, even gateway. Their support is legendarily poor. The computers are made like all the rest of the flimsy shit they make these days. Note also that Sony *still* hasn't figured out how to make a laser mechanism that can handle any abuse whatsoever. Every Vaio I've ever had the displeas

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        The era when Sony made good hardware has long passed. They do still make some acceptable hardware,

        The last Sony product I bought was a car stereo. One of the features I wanted was the ability to plug in a flash drive and have it play MP3s from it. The radio does this, but, I found after buying it (and there was no indication of this limitation in any of the literature) that it cannot read anything past the first 4GB of the flash drive. When I bought the radio, that model was only a few months old and 64GB

  • Sony: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:10PM (#39019983)
    Your hardware was always good, but your focus on lock-in with nonstandard things like Memory Stick and user-hating products like the rootkit DRM on audio CDs is what killed you. Geeks everywhere have been telling their family and friends that you suck for the last decade. That tide will not change before you lose a lot more money. Just close up shop and call it a day.
    • And now, for a thousand generations, geeks everywhere will be telling their family and friends that Sony sucks; and they won't even know they're doing it.

    • by unixisc (2429386)

      If they had used the larger form factor of the memory stick to offer at least a density an order of magnitude higher than standard SD cards, it would have made sense. But seeing them offer far lower densities for higher prices defies logic.

      But honestly, nowadays, I see no reason to prefer a Sony to a Sharp, a Samsung or even some new company I may stumble across in Costco.

    • Re:Sony: (Score:4, Insightful)

      by andydread (758754) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:53PM (#39020571)
      amen AMEN, I went from all Sony products to no Sony products over the last decade. I did the whole Sony Style thing. Everything was Sony. Now I don't own any more Sony products because of exactly what you mentioned along with their arrogant attitude and litigious behaviour. Sony's entry into the content business was the start of their downfall. Becoming a leading member of the RIAA and MPAA made it worse. I no longer purchase Sony products and actively recommend against their products. They should drop the content business and become a hardware company again this time without trying to populate the marketplace with non-standard hardware and only then will I consider recommending them to anyone.
      • by pscottdv (676889)

        This.

        As long a the tail of Sony's content business continues to wag the dog of their hardware business, they will find it difficult to deliver products people want.

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          As long a the tail of Sony's content business continues to wag the dog of their hardware business, they will find it difficult to deliver products people want.

          Bingo. Sony's hardware serves their movie/music business, not the customers who actually buy it.

          They should get out of the content business and build stuff that people actually want to buy; why would I buy a $200 Sony Blu-Ray player which is region-locked and doesn't let me skip ads when I can buy an $80 Chinese no-name brand with neither of those restrictions?

  • Sony is one of the largest Robotics companies in the world (and I don't mean industrial robots). It only makes sense they want to put some brains in those robots.
    • Or perhaps put brains in the robots but promote them to management. They couldn't do any worse at the moment!

    • Sony is one of the largest Robotics companies in the world (and I don't mean industrial robots). It only makes sense they want to put some brains in those robots.

      That would be nice. The Republican presidential campaign is getting rather boring. Time to upgrade that firmware.

    • by oursland (1898514)
      What robots do you mean? They canceled their consumer electronics and research robotics product, Aibo, in 2006.
  • Here's an idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:20PM (#39020149)

    Sony could add a feature to its hardware platforms to allow loading/running an alternate OS. Preferably one that would attract lots of developers to their platforms. Perhaps even an open source OS, thereby making the best community developed products easy to distribute.

    Nah. It would never work.

  • Sony has been defined by overpriced accessories, rootkits, removed features, draconian network DRM, and in recent times, a lack of concern for protection of customer data. The only thing Sony that I've even remotely enjoyed recently has been my Sony monitor headphones, a simple, cheap and good quality hardware device. If this CEO wants to get Sony back on the right track, he'll solve these problems. Looks like he's getting off on the right foot, at least.
    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Sadly I do not have much hope for him/Sony.

      This new CEO was the same one who was over the PS3/game division when the PSN security breach happened and every other piece of bad press regarding the PS3.

  • And he's right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:22PM (#39020187)

    And he's right. In the long term, and that might be another couple of generations, game consoles will be terminals, TV's were dumb terminals and need to be made smart, smartphones can't distinguish themselves from one another if they are all basically the same hardware and software.

    Hardware is a bad business to be in. There is becoming less and less of a need for a lot of different foundries, sure there will be some world wide but they are, by and large, astronomically expensive and need to have multiple customers, this is your TSMC, Intel, AMD etc. Given that, Sony, along with everyone else, is buying from them. That means your differentiation comes from what you run on the hardware, not what the hardware is.

    Sony *should* own some major portion of the mobile market place. But it doesn't. It has just another android phone basically x10. The PS vita should be *the* premium android phone right now. But it isn't. That's a software and a vision problem, not hardware problem. Because what does a Sony smartphone bring to the table with software?

    Sony *should* have a secure, reliable network that people can trust to buy movies music and games on, and that will be up 'all the time' (within reason of course), and, given the PSN outages last year, that isn't the case.

    The future for Sony is smart boxes that go with (or inside) dumb boxes, and link up to their smart software services. TV on demand, on your TV, or PS1, 2, 3 or 4 games, all over the net. That may mean running their own cloud backend. But it's still known hardware problems solved with engaging software that's better than the other guy, not shitty software with somehow innovative hardware, because there's not a lot to innovate on the hardware.

    In other words, they're largely a consumer facing version of IBM or HP. I'm sure they have, and could do more with the battery/chemicals business and so on, the backend may be boring tech but it can be useful. They can make TV's that use 70% less power for example. But pitching that to consumers requires informed consumers, and most of us, about most of the technology we use, aren't, or at least aren't informed enough for things like a TV that uses 70% less power, but costs 2x as much to even know if that's a worthwhile deal. They could, I suppose, choose to radically reinvest in something else, solar power, that kind of thing, but most of their innovation has been in content distribution (floppy disks, CD's, DVD's, Blu Ray, the whole gaming business etc.) and content delivery at that level is now a networking infrastructure problem.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      So Sony should deliver the same hardware with the same Android OS as everybody else? Yeah, like that's differentiation. Sony has as far as I know never competed with TSMC, Intel, AMD etc. and why should they start now? They've been into producing consumer products, and there's plenty opportunity to pick components and make solid, well intgrated, price efficient combinations of good build quality and turn a good profit on that. My iPhone4 didn't even come with a flashlight function, though there's a dozen ap

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        Well that's just it, the Sony branded app/market place whatever has to be the defining feature of the phone. That might be Uncharted Androids 17 Drakes Reincarnated Cyborg Still Jumping, but if it will move units it will make money.

        Exactly as I said, they aren't doing anything fundamentally innovative in hardware, they're buying hardware from other people. There's nothing wrong with that, but trying to run your own manufacturing business isn't a great plan. Finding innovative solutions to use the hardware

    • by Kohath (38547)

      They can make TV's that use 70% less power for example. But pitching that to consumers requires informed consumers, and most of us, about most of the technology we use, aren't, or at least aren't informed enough for things like a TV that uses 70% less power, but costs 2x as much to even know if that's a worthwhile deal.

      It isn't. Consider yourself informed.

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:28PM (#39020263)

    It was evident at CES this year. Samsung is the new Sony. Sure, Samsung is getting into the Apps/Online content thing as well, but as far as hardware goes, Samsung has probably beaten Sony in every arena except for gaming.

    Sony's booth at CES was 200 Sq Ft. bigger than Samsung's booth, but it had half as much product. Samsung, by contrast, had a 30,000 Sq.Ft. booth filled to the rim with gadgets and TVs.

    Good luck with that "software drives the hardware" strategy Sony. Very few companies have been able to succeed at that model - actually, I can only think of one - a fruit company based out of Cupertino....

    -ted

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:43PM (#39020433) Homepage

      Samsung, by contrast, had a 30,000 Sq.Ft. booth filled to the rim with gadgets and TVs.

      And that's one of the big problems. 1500 different cell phones, monitors, computers, etc. All with exciting names like Sony XV-20039clb (now with tint control!).

      It all gets lost in the ozone and long chain monomer haze. We don't need thousands more products, we need better ones.

  • For one, they should focus first on security. Sony has been hacked recently in so many and obvious ways, it would make win 3.1 blush.
    • by Gravatron (716477)
      I agree, they should track down the hackers and arrange a nice public execution for them.
  • by Anomalyst (742352) on Monday February 13, 2012 @12:55PM (#39020595)
    Couldn't happen to nicer company or investors.
  • Step Number One (Score:4, Insightful)

    by twmcneil (942300) on Monday February 13, 2012 @01:18PM (#39020947)
    First thing Sony needs to do is quit dicking their customers over. Be it intentional (root-kits) or accidental (losing PS Network account data), it must stop. Nothing else that you attempt to do will stand a chance of success until you learn to treat your customers with a wee bit of respect.
  • by hitmark (640295)

    Sony has not been about hardware since Stringer took office, and everything else was put under the thumb of Sony Music and Pictures.

  • or not getting 3 billion of what you think you deserve? there is a difference

  • It seems like it's yearly now that Sony comes out with some apology or explanation about why they suck along promises to do better. They never do. They already apologized for having crappy software like six years ago.

    Fool me once, shame on me, fool me ninety-nine times and ... well ... you ain't gonna fool me again.

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