You're CEO of Sony: What Do You Do?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
It's 2008.



The iPod has utterly kicked your Walkman in the nuts, and the current model Walkmans are ugly and the syncing software is garbage (also, you're tied to Microsoft's DRM). The PS3 is second in Japan, perhaps Europe, and third in North America. The PSP is doing very well, but moves little software and is poorly designed (optical drive). Your content business is doing ok (yet Spiderman 4 looks like a no-go so?) but it has systematically sabotaged the consumer electronics business.



You have a couple upsides. The newish XMB interface works well for the PSP/PS3 and you're expanding it to the TV business which is also going well. Blu-ray won, and that will help down the road. The Sony Vaio line-up is doing ok, but you're stuck with Windows.



Your market cap is a third what it was in 2003. Your margins are below 1%, compared to nearly 3% in 2003 and against 18% against Apple Inc.





What do you do?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    Sell to Apple, trim the fat and live happily ever after?
  • Reply 2 of 15
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,720member
    I'm constantly surprised by tech companies not copying Apple's approach. How come they don't look at Apple and think "why don't we do that?"?



    So:
    • Massive simplification of product line - why on earth do they need so many different, overlapping models of TV, for example? All it does is confuse the customer. Have one range of inexpensive TVs and another range of premium TVs. Give them sensible model names and make it obvious what the difference between the two is. Similar idea with all other product lines.



    • Stop making everything so ugly. VAIOs are ugly. The PS3 is ugly. Look at Apple's machines and try to comprehend how the clean, uncluttered lines and absence of stupid marketing stickers make them look much more attractive.



    • Hire some decent programmers and have another go at writing an iTunes competitor, incorporating online store selling DRM-free AAC music tracks, H.264 movie downloads & rentals in SD and HD. All Sony movie content would be available for purchase in DRM-free H.264 with 5.1 AC3 sound. Movie rentals would have DRM with non-draconian terms. As I would be CEO and have better attention to detail that Steve Jobs, I wouldn't let anything out the gate until it was better than iTunes.



    • Introduce an HDD-only PVR for major markets around the world. I'm still a bit confused why major manufacturers haven't got into this market.



    • Develop "digital home" products - e.g. better "media center PC", Roku Soundbridge/Sonos/Squeezebox competitor, AppleTV competitor, and a decent NAS/homeserver product.



    • Make sure that "managed copy" in Blu-ray really happens.



    • Continue to develop the Walkman line of mobile phones.



    • Make Sony Centers more like bricks-and-mortar Apple Stores, including after-sales support and training.



    • Develop a Linux-based OS (probably use Ubuntu as the starting-point) for installation on computers alongside Windows. Develop iLife equivalent apps for this OS, contribute heavily to the OpenOffice project to make it less shit and bundle that too, etc. etc. Obviously this involves hiring a lot of decent programmers and is very much a long-term commitment. Not for the faint-hearted. Fortunately I'd have money available to hire all these programmers as there would be fewer hardware engineers thanks to the streamlining of the companies product line-up.



      The core of this OS would become the software foundation of all products. Just as OS X is the foundation of Macs, the iPhone, iPod touch and AppleTV, Sony OS would be the foundation of the "digital home products", VAIOs, mobile phones and portable media players.

  • Reply 3 of 15
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    The product line-up simplification bit is huge. Sony apparently believes that it isn't worth being in a market unless they can offer three hundred iterations of a given gizmo, each virtually indistinguishable from the others, and all with names like "KXR-24553U"



    Another open question is their quality control; for a while, at least, they seemed to be incapable of making anything that didn't break in 6 months, and their customer service for repairs seemed to be deliberately, insanely, perversely designed to make absolutely sure that you never, ever, considered buying another Sony product ever, ever, ever. I don't know if this has improved, because I decided to never buy another Sony product ever, ever, ever.



    I can't be alone in this-- once you get a rep for shoddy goods (and they definitely had that, at one point) it's really hard to shake. I haven't seen anything from Sony acknowledging they had a problem, so I can't trust that they've ever addressed it. I'm willing to bet Sony's profits are at least somewhat damaged, even now, even if they are executing production flawlessly, by all the people they've pissed off over the years.



    Also, stop letting the engineers decide the feature set. To be fair, this is a problem endemic to the industry (it's what distinguishes Apple from the pack, after all), but Sony has a culture that venerates engineering-- which can lead to some totally cool stuff, but more often than not makes their gear feel a little like it has been designed for the military, bristling with "functionality" and no- nonsense, butch design that comes off as aggressively user unfriendly.



    And when they do decide to get friendly, they just come off as weird-- ala the "bean" MP3 player.



    It's a shame, because, at its best, Sony has combined great engineering with smart industrial design-- they just don't seem to know when to stop adding models and features.
  • Reply 4 of 15
    I think it would be an amazing job to be the CEO of Sony. It is a company that has so many resources and so much potential, but in recent years it has got lost.



    Much of this will echo what has already been said but...



    - They need to make their products look nicer. The PS3 isn't exactly pretty is it??

    - They need to simplify their product lines - how many millions different phone models do they have.

    - They should ditch widows (tho this will be difficult to do!)

    - more integration between products
  • Reply 5 of 15
    This discussion is actually like looking in the mirror in some respects Apple 'appears' to be drifting towards the 'expansion' path where product lines grow and have the potential to become ever more complicated, juggling too many projects, missing deadlines etc...



    A know a few of us would like to see every unintuitive interface/product get the apple makeover but when you start catering for too many niche markets you end up neglecting your focus.



    It's always very tricky to maintain that balance
  • Reply 6 of 15
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,720member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dazabrit View Post


    This discussion is actually like looking in the mirror in some respects Apple 'appears' to be drifting towards the 'expansion' path where product lines grow and have the potential to become ever more complicated, juggling too many projects, missing deadlines etc...



    A know a few of us would like to see every unintuitive interface/product get the apple makeover but when you start catering for too many niche markets you end up neglecting your focus.



    It's always very tricky to maintain that balance



    I think Apple could stand to expand its product lines a little in many cases.



    They would still be many miles away from having a product line as messed-up, overlapping and confusing as Sony, or the pièce de résistance, Acer (seriously, how the hell do you choose which laptop of theirs to buy - check out their website, I dare you!).
  • Reply 7 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    I think Apple could stand to expand its product lines a little in many cases.



    They would still be many miles away from having a product line as messed-up, overlapping and confusing as Sony, or the pièce de résistance, Acer (seriously, how the hell do you choose which laptop of theirs to buy - check out their website, I dare you!).



    I'd rather not live through Acer style torture!!



    I agree that Apple have a little room for expansion but it makes you wonder. It's like swimming in the sea, you don't realize how quick your drifting until it's too bloody late!
  • Reply 8 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Electric Monk View Post


    It's 2008.



    The iPod has utterly kicked your Walkman in the nuts, and the current model Walkmans are ugly and the syncing software is garbage (also, you're tied to Microsoft's DRM). The PS3 is second in Japan, perhaps Europe, and third in North America. The PSP is doing very well, but moves little software and is poorly designed (optical drive). Your content business is doing ok (yet Spiderman 4 looks like a no-go so?) but it has systematically sabotaged the consumer electronics business.



    You have a couple upsides. The newish XMB interface works well for the PSP/PS3 and you're expanding it to the TV business which is also going well. Blu-ray won, and that will help down the road. The Sony Vaio line-up is doing ok, but you're stuck with Windows.



    Your market cap is a third what it was in 2003. Your margins are below 1%, compared to nearly 3% in 2003 and against 18% against Apple Inc.





    What do you do?



    You forgot, the PSP is actually trailing the DS by alot and interest is slowing down. Your online iTunes copy store is a failure. You don't sell as many consumer electronics like TVs and DVD players anymore. You brand image has suffered severly. PS3 is bleeding you dry and has been conquered by the Wii. Your software for pros is not doing so great. Your not as big in the digiCam and Camcorder sector as you once were.



    Hmm... doesn't look too good.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    e1618978e1618978 Posts: 6,074member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stustanley View Post


    - They need to make their products look nicer. The PS3 isn't exactly pretty is it??



    That is in the eye of the beholder - I think that the PS3 is a solid, dead quiet, and beautiful machine, it totally puts the Wii and especially the 360 to shame (I have all three). The hardware was well tested (they can run in a sauna for 3 days, the 360 evidently was never environmentally tested at all). Hardware and software run well together - there is nothing that I can think of that needs to be improved in the PS3.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdotdubz View Post


    PS3 is bleeding you dry and has been conquered by the Wii.



    PS3 is profitable now:



    http://www.ps3fanboy.com/2008/01/31/...y-makes-profit



    And they have sold 31 million PSPs - that has to be good for something, it isn't even really competing with the gameboy since it can do so much more. It has outsold the iPod touch...
  • Reply 10 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by e1618978 View Post


    That is in the eye of the beholder - I think that the PS3 is a solid, dead quiet, and beautiful machine, it totally puts the Wii and especially the 360 to shame (I have all three). The hardware was well tested (they can run in a sauna for 3 days, the 360 evidently was never environmentally tested at all). Hardware and software run well together - there is nothing that I can think of that needs to be improved in the PS3.







    PS3 is profitable now:



    http://www.ps3fanboy.com/2008/01/31/...y-makes-profit



    And they have sold 31 million PSPs - that has to be good for something, it isn't even really competing with the gameboy since it can do so much more. It has outsold the iPod touch...



    Wow, a tiny profit in one quarter. Whip out the champagne boys!
  • Reply 11 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdotdubz View Post


    Wow, a tiny profit in one quarter. Whip out the champagne boys!



    PS3 was a success for the company even before it turned profitable. Without PS3 the HD war would have been very different, and it could have been Sony that was hemorrhaging money like Toshiba is right now. Sales of the PS3 are picking up more and more and manufacturing cost is going to keep going down (especially with the natural cost drops of progressive technology and the widespread implementation of Blu-ray). PS3 also now has some real heavy-hitters coming in the near future (e.g. MSG, FF XIII, GT) which are going to spark serious interest in the system.



    And don't forget: all along the PS3 was just a tier of their gaming market products. It was meant to work hand-in-hand with PS2 sales, and the PS2 has been performing spectacularly. Now they are going into the upcoming year with a next-gen system which has built-in hard drive storage (developers can take advantage of this for caching and upgrading) and next-generation media (game developers can't develop on HD-DVD or Blu-ray for the XBox 360), something that will make PS3 games capable of things the 360 simply cannot touch, even with similar processing power (you can only store so much data on a DVD).



    Your PS3's dark days are vanishing into the horizon.



    A better question is: What will you do to make it even better?
  • Reply 12 of 15
    irelandireland Posts: 17,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Electric Monk View Post


    It's 2008.



    The iPod has utterly kicked your Walkman in the nuts, and the current model Walkmans are ugly and the syncing software is garbage (also, you're tied to Microsoft's DRM). The PS3 is second in Japan, perhaps Europe, and third in North America. The PSP is doing very well, but moves little software and is poorly designed (optical drive). Your content business is doing ok (yet Spiderman 4 looks like a no-go so…) but it has systematically sabotaged the consumer electronics business.



    You have a couple upsides. The newish XMB interface works well for the PSP/PS3 and you're expanding it to the TV business which is also going well. Blu-ray won, and that will help down the road. The Sony Vaio line-up is doing ok, but you're stuck with Windows.



    Your market cap is a third what it was in 2003. Your margins are below 1%, compared to nearly 3% in 2003 and against 18% against Apple Inc.





    What do you do?



    I make a Sky+-like [not just freeware] service for the PS3 which users can subscribe to. Make it cost competitive, and add downloadable content. I make that PS3 phone real, give it some good looking software and let it download games from the store via the new computer software, over Wifi directly to the device itself, and also to the PS3. Device can sync with both computer [Mac or PC] and the PS3. It backs up everything and keeps them all in sync. I'd also add this new Sony+ software to all new Sony TV's and the PS3, the hardware box is the PS3.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    I think Apple could stand to expand its product lines a little in many cases.



    They would still be many miles away from having a product line as messed-up, overlapping and confusing as Sony, or the pièce de résistance, Acer (seriously, how the hell do you choose which laptop of theirs to buy - check out their website, I dare you!).



    Yikes. I particularly like the navigation (Dell does this too) that obliges you too blindly choose from a drop=down menu of dozens of opaquely named models, which takes you to a cluttered product page, but forces you to go back to that drop-down menu to take another blind stab at finding out about a different model.



    Compare that to Apple's entire line-up for a given segment on a single page.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Xian Zhu Xuande View Post


    PS3 was a success for the company even before it turned profitable. Without PS3 the HD war would have been very different, and it could have been Sony that was hemorrhaging money like Toshiba is right now. Sales of the PS3 are picking up more and more and manufacturing cost is going to keep going down (especially with the natural cost drops of progressive technology and the widespread implementation of Blu-ray). PS3 also now has some real heavy-hitters coming in the near future (e.g. MSG, FF XIII, GT) which are going to spark serious interest in the system.



    And don't forget: all along the PS3 was just a tier of their gaming market products. It was meant to work hand-in-hand with PS2 sales, and the PS2 has been performing spectacularly. Now they are going into the upcoming year with a next-gen system which has built-in hard drive storage (developers can take advantage of this for caching and upgrading) and next-generation media (game developers can't develop on HD-DVD or Blu-ray for the XBox 360), something that will make PS3 games capable of things the 360 simply cannot touch, even with similar processing power (you can only store so much data on a DVD).



    Your PS3's dark days are vanishing into the horizon.



    A better question is: What will you do to make it even better?



    I'm sorry but i think the PS3 had a minimal effect at best of determining the winner in the HD format war. The outcome would have been the same whether PS3 was blu-ray or HD-DVD. The more popular and more abundant console offered HD-DVD and HD-DVD ultimately lost, go figure.



    So once again, PS3 had zero effect on HD Format wars. Its sales were completely insignificant.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Yikes. I particularly like the navigation (Dell does this too) that obliges you too blindly choose from a drop=down menu of dozens of opaquely named models, which takes you to a cluttered product page, but forces you to go back to that drop-down menu to take another blind stab at finding out about a different model.



    Compare that to Apple's entire line-up for a given segment on a single page.



    If you think about Apple has seemed to copy the luxury automobile market in selling its products. Offer a few high end models in a few segments, make choosing the models and options as simple as possible so as not to confuse the consumer, let the customers feel like they are a part of something and treat them like the are of a special class for buying your product.



    I see Lexus and Mercedes selling their cars the same way Apple sells its iPods and Macs!
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