Originally Posted by bwik
The danger with companies is they get run for the employee's benefit not the shareholders (who are widows and orphans trying to pay for their mortgage too, in many cases).
That may be the most absurd statement I've ever seen posted on this site. No corporation that I think of was ever run for the employees' benefit. I can think of a few that were run for the senior executives' benefit (Enron, etc.), but never for the employees. And "widows and orphans" tend to have their pensions and other investments in mutual funds, not in single stocks, so whether a particular single company does well or not is almost a moot point. In my opinion, the companies who do manage to the stock price are the disasters. Because those are the companies that think only short term.
That's not to say that Japanese convention doesn't make it hard to get rid of employees that they don't need, but run for the employees benefit? Come on.
Originally Posted by bwik
Sony has been trading on its old brand equity for years. Employees have been paid without delivering value to the customer. Sony could purchase generic electronics (and often does) and simply box them and affix a Sony label. This takes a bare minimum of workers -- maybe 1000 for the company.
That would be even worse than what they do now. What's the point of being in the market if you bring nothing to the table except a logo?
The problem with Sony is simply that they are far too big, far too diverse and have too many distinct P&Ls so that there are few actual synergies between the divisions. Steve Jobs once said that the difference between Apple and Sony is that Apple has just one P&L and Sony has many. The "famous" story is that because Apple had one P&L, Jobs was able to divert marketing money from one product to another (I believe from the Mac to the iPod).
Sony still makes some good products. I have their highest end TV and it really is quite spectacular, but they had lots of manufacturing defects with this model (I happened to get a perfect one). Their NEX camera line is pretty good. They still make good professional products for broadcast, etc. If you have to use a PC, many people like their VAIO laptops.
However, Sony is so big and so diverse, it may be impossible to fix. You basically have to blow it up and start over, which is extraordinarily difficult to do, especially in Japan. When Jobs returned to Apple in July of '97 and streamlined the product line, Apple had about 45 desktops and 8 Power Books. In 1998, they released about 28 machines. Sony probably has about 45,000 products and I'm only counting hardware, not content. It's a completely different world.
The other problem with Sony (although some would see this as a positive) is that once a product line doesn't prove to be ultimately successful, they drop it and stop supporting it. Sony had developed a digital audio system for movie theatres to compete with Dolby and DTS, Sony SDDS. Many theatres and studios bought into it, but when they were still #3, Sony stopped making the equipment and stopped supporting it. Now many theatres have bought Sony's 4K digital movie projector, although it has many critics because it's too difficult to remove the 3D filters when showing 2D movies. But it's hard to say whether Sony will move to the next step which is to use laser light sources to create brighter screen images.
While some SACD audio discs are still made, it's almost impossible to buy them in the U.S.
Sony's co-founder, Akio Morita, was a lot like Steve Jobs. The legend is that the first Walkman got produced because he himself wanted one. No market research, no focus groups, etc. Sony's got to return to that kind of thinking. But with such a big company, it might be way too late.