Sony must lead, not follow, to win back youth

David Robertson

Sony has reached a crossroads in its life. It has long been a benchmark for quality televisions, portable music players and computer game consoles but in recent years it has struggled.

In televisions, there is so much competition from rivals in China and Korea that the margins are pretty poor. Only new technology such as 3D TV or ultra thin screens will give Sony the sort of edge that it once enjoyed in portable music players – a market that it has ceded to Apple in the past decade. In the gaming consoles market, Nintendo's Wii has impressed while Sony's PS3 has struggled to generate much excitement.

One of the few areas where Sony's technology has been dominant is in high definition DVDs. Its Blu-Ray platform is now the industry standard but even here Sony risks faltering as it is becoming clear that digital downloads are the way forward for the DVD market, which could make Blu-Ray redundant.

Sir Howard Stringer, Sony's CEO, clearly realises that something pretty fundamental needs to be done to rejuvenate the company. But Sony has to take some giant technological leaps forward. It has to drive markets rather than respond to innovations by others. If it fails to do so, it will never regain the dynamism of its youth.

 

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