New Sony CEO looking to shift to Apple-like integration of hardware, software [u]

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


Kazuo Hirai, Sony's newly-announced President and CEO, has ambitious plans for the consumer electronics giant that entail strategies that are often strongly associated with Apple: centralized top-down decision-making on products and a focus on software and service combined with hardware.



Update: Sony reported an operating loss of $1.2 billion for the December quarter on revenue of $23.4 billion.



Sony announced on Wednesday that its board of directors had unanimously appointed Hirai, who is famous for his work with Sony's gaming business, to be the company's new CEO, ousting Howard Stringer, who will transition to non-executive chairman of the board on April 1, The New York Times .



The management shuffle comes as the company is struggling to return to profitability. The Tokyo, Japan-based electronics maker is on track to report its fourth consecutive year in the red, with $2.3 billion in losses expected to come from its TV division alone. Stringer failed to turn the company around after taking the reins as Sony's first foreign chief executive in 2005.



According to a profile of Hirai in The Wall Street Journal (via The Verge), the 51-year-old executive is planning drastic measures for the company when he takes over.



"We can't just continue to be a great purveyor of hardware products," he reportedly told the publication, noting that he is looking to move on from past successes and focus more on software and services.



Hirai's stated strategy has drawn comparisons to Apple's own. The Cupertino, Calif., company wasn't content to rest on its laurels with the iPod and proceeded to revolutionize both the smartphone and tablet industries. Apple is also known for its high level of control over the product development process and its tight integration of hardware, software and services.



It's only fitting that Sony draw inspiration from Apple, as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said that Sony had an influence on him during his company's early years. He was a friend of Sony co-founder Akio Morita and had said he was impressed by the company's transistor radios and Trinitron TVs. Ultimately, Jobs went on to beat Sony at its own game by dominating its Walkman music player line with the iPod. In recent years, the rise of Apple's iOS as a viable gaming platform has even begun to take a toll on Sony's PlayStation profits.



Hirai expects to face resistance from his colleagues as he works from within to return Sony to its innovative roots. "I don't think everybody is on board," he said.



Sony has been characterized as being sluggish and reactive as of late. For instance, Sony unveiled its first touchscreen tablet offerings last April, more than a year after Apple released the iPad, and then waited until October 2011 to ship one. Despite Sony's assertion that its first-generation tablets "truly represent the best of everything Sony has to offer," the devices have been poorly received and have failed to gain traction.











The company has even admitted that it is racing to preemptively avoid any threat from Apple in the television industry. Stringer said late last year that he had "no doubt" that Jobs was working on an innovative new television set. The executive admitted that he had "spent the last five years building a platform" to compete against Jobs. But, on the bright side, Apple's rumored entrance into the television market wouldn't threaten any current profits from its rival, as Sony's television business has lost money for seven straight years.



"We can't continue selling TV sets [the way we have been]. Every TV set we all make loses money," Stringer said of the industry last November.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    If Sony really wants to pursue an "Apple-like" integration of hardware & software, they can start by owning the software and making it an extension of the hardware they are making, instead of signing up for Google's party (or for that matter, Microsoft's).
  • Reply 2 of 49
    aizmovaizmov Posts: 989member
    Kaz Hirai is 51!! He looks much younger.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    If Sony really wants to pursue an "Apple-like" integration of hardware & software, they can start by owning the software and making it an extension of the hardware they are making, instead of signing up for Google's party (or for that matter, Microsoft's).



    You nailed it.
  • Reply 3 of 49
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,167member
    I like Sony and it is sad to see such once great company suffer.



    But this is going to be fun to watch. We all know what happened to HP when you tried to dump Windows!



    Quote:

    But, on the bright side, Apple's rumored entrance into the television market wouldn't threaten any current profits from its rival, as Sony's television business has lost money for seven straight years.



  • Reply 4 of 49
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,901member
    So after at least 20 years, Sony finally figured out that they can't make shit for software? I could have told them that in 1994 when I had to junk the software that came with their CD burner, and every optical disk that came with each and every Sony product that I bought since.



    I don't know how they can transform themselves into an Apple clone without kicking out a significant portion of upper management and at least a whole layer of middle management. Especially those guys in product design and development who have never seen a button, switch, or on-screen menu that they didn't like.



    I fear though that when they talk about Apple-like integration of hardware and software, i.e. the whole widget approach, they'll start thinking that this validates their addiction to proprietary media formats. [Which is Sony's answer to the question that only they seem to be interested in: How can we alienate potential customers who are otherwise already impressed by the quality of our hardware?]
  • Reply 5 of 49
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,432member
    Not gonna happen. It's not just not in Sony's DNA.



    They understand the hardware part but they've not a clue about the software part.
  • Reply 6 of 49
    This akin to waking up in the 9th inning, down 15-0, and deciding its time to start a rally. Ain't gonna happen.
  • Reply 7 of 49
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    A friend of mine bought a SOny LCD TV and was very upset with the performance of it. He ended up sticking it away in a spare bedroom and buying a better brand. In my opinion SOny doesn't get it any more. Maybe we will see what they have to offer in the next 5 years. I for june don't plan to ever buy sony products ever.
  • Reply 8 of 49
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,600member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    the 51-year-old executive is planning drastic measures for the company when he takes over.



    Sounds good and very unlike RIM's new CEO who announced that RIM would make no changes at all.
  • Reply 9 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Not gonna happen. It's not just not in Sony's DNA.



    They understand the hardware part but they've not a clue about the software part.



    Based on my recent experiences with the brand they are even struggling with the hardware part. Durability and after sales customer support are sorely lacking.



    Also quality in design is missing from their DNA.



    Good luck to the new CEO in changing their culture.
  • Reply 10 of 49
    Look, Apple can afford to update a phone once a year, a laptop once a year. Sony? Please!!!!!

    They can't afford to sit on one version or two versions of a pc.Sony is so huge that they have to crank out a mess of crap tech to justify their big a$$ existence.



    The other day I was in Best Buy and saw a Sony clock radio. Flimsy POS!
  • Reply 11 of 49
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,110member
    Sony should have had that figured out years ago. I remember those really cool flash-based mp3 players they had that got rave reviews for design, but got skewerered by the horrendous software and DRM crap they had on it making the devices essentially useless. The iPod was just coming out too.



    Sony got lazy and got caught sleeping at the wheel. I have zero sympathy for Sony.
  • Reply 12 of 49
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,742member
    OK, Mr. Hirai, you want to improve Sony? You want to integrate software and hardware? Start with a redesign of the PS3 UX. Seriously, everything you need to get started you already own. Start with a great designer instead of a group of engineers and a focus group. Get back to me when you've made some progress...
  • Reply 13 of 49
    mauszmausz Posts: 243member
    So they're mimicking Apple in their hardware-software integration. Bold new move from Sony... oh wait, what do you call the Playstation 1/2/3/Portable ?
  • Reply 14 of 49
    So Sony, in order to achieve this pipe dream your gonna need your own OS and ecosystem to grow and sustain all on your own, from scratch…



    You don't stand a hope in hell.



    There were many players with this business model in the 90's, but the world chose to crown Apple king while others fell by the wayside.



    The same is happening today, your Nokia's and Blackberry's proprietary operating systems will melt away to leave one 'winner'. Because Apple already won that war in the 90's, and have an entrenched ecosystem built up over 3 decades which they simply migrated over to portable devices when processing power allowed them to.

    No mobile/gaming/electronics company stands a chance in this second battle for domination, nor ever did they do.



    To join with others (Windows/Android) is your only hope of survival.
  • Reply 15 of 49
    dreyfus2dreyfus2 Posts: 1,072member
    I have used 3 Sony products in my life. A Walkman II in the mid-eighties that was gorgeous (for that time). Then I forgot about Sony.



    In 2004 I bought a Sony voice recorder in an airport shop, as I was flying out to a two-year project in Thailand and needed one for memos (there were no real smartphones or tablets back then). The piece of #@$* was almost two hundred USD, and you could not use it at all without Sony's Windows software, as they used some weird audio-codec for which no Mac software existed. Of course, I could not really return it after 24 months.



    Against better knowledge, I bought a Sony LVD TV after moving to India last year (the only other brand they had was Samsung, and I do not buy from Samsung as a principle). This $3,500 piece of #@$* needs minutes to turn on and become responsive (up to two minutes to accept the change of an input, e.g. from set top box to the DVD player or Apple TV). Sometimes it does not react to the remote control at all (despite the confirmation light blinking) and then, 10-20 seconds later it seems to process all buffered keystrokes at once (usually resulting in something as convenient as 100% volume).
  • Reply 16 of 49
    freediverxfreediverx Posts: 1,424member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    Not gonna happen. It's not just not in Sony's DNA.



    They understand the hardware part but they've not a clue about the software part.





    Even on the hardware side Sony has long had a tendency to use cheap, metallic-looking plastics in combination with better materials. Look at their notebooks, TVs, etc. They've produced some quality core technology and decent product design aesthetics but then there's lots of cutting corners to reduce manufacturing costs, despite the fact that their prices are among the highest in every category.



    As far as software/hardware integration is concerned, they'll need to start by firing everyone at every level who's ever been associated with any software design and decision making at the company. Sony's software is some of the worse I've ever seen, both in terms of usability and stability.



    Perhaps before they go down this path they should learn some more important lessons from Apple and 1) always focus on their customers first and 2) get rid of the sshit in their product lines and stick to the great stuff.
  • Reply 17 of 49
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Ah, Stringer, you showed some real gutso but I'm sorry about the last 5-10 years getting "pwned" by others. Somewhere around 2005 was the turning point. Also, partnering with IBM for the PS3 chip. A mistake many have made, partnering with IBM for consumer CPU/GPUs.
  • Reply 18 of 49
    jack99jack99 Posts: 157member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post


    So Sony, in order to achieve this pipe dream your gonna need your own OS and ecosystem to grow and sustain all on your own, from scratch?



    You don't stand a hope in hell.



    There were many players with this business model in the 90's, but the world chose to crown Apple king while others fell by the wayside.



    The same is happening today, your Nokia's and Blackberry's proprietary operating systems will melt away to leave one 'winner'. Because Apple already won that war in the 90's, and have an entrenched ecosystem built up over 3 decades which they simply migrated over to portable devices when processing power allowed them to.

    No mobile/gaming/electronics company stands a chance in this second battle for domination, nor ever did they do.



    To join with others (Windows/Android) is your only hope of survival.





    The market is young, and there is still room for new players. Apple's current dominance in integrated solutions doesn't mean it should last forever.
  • Reply 19 of 49
    allblueallblue Posts: 393member
    I could never understand why Windows was allowed a free run of things throughout the PC revolution. There was Apple of course, but in the big picture they were a niche player, but why so many big wealthy corporations meekly tied themselves to Microsoft's mast seemed a bit odd to me. The guts of an OS are available open source, has it really been beyond the wit of man to not develop an OS as Apple have done? I do understand that an OS is a vastly complex undertaking, but I would have thought that were advantages to be had from designing one from this point i.e. with today's and tomorrow's technological realities in mind and none of the legacy of thirty year old tech under the hood. Microsoft must have made a trillion dollars profit while others stood around and watched.
  • Reply 20 of 49
    eric475eric475 Posts: 177member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dreyfus2 View Post


    Against better knowledge, I bought a Sony LVD TV after moving to India last year (the only other brand they had was Samsung, and I do not buy from Samsung as a principle). This $3,500 piece of #@$* needs minutes to turn on and become responsive (up to two minutes to accept the change of an input, e.g. from set top box to the DVD player or Apple TV). Sometimes it does not react to the remote control at all (despite the confirmation light blinking) and then, 10-20 seconds later it seems to process all buffered keystrokes at once (usually resulting in something as convenient as 100% volume).



    If you don't buy from Samsung as principle, I understand that. But the LCD panel in your Sony was made from a Samsung factory. Sony doesn't make LCD panels.
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