The fact that new Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai vowed during his first press conference to “change and revive Sony” is enough proof that indeed, Sony is no longer in command of the industry it once dominated. Gone are the days when TV is synonymous to Sony. Once one of the most admired and best known brands in the world market, Sony Corp. has lost its grip in the TV market to relative newcomers like Samsung and LG. In the 1980’s, Sony made every Japanese proud of their country, their products, and technology.
Sony’s Fall from Grace
For the last eight years, the giant consumer electronic firm has been saddled by operating losses. This is seen as mainly due to its failure to create and introduce new gizmos that are both attractive and affordable at the same time. The last time Sony stirred excitement in the global market was the introduction of the Walkman, that later became Discman with the birth of compact discs that became the prevalent way to play music.
But because technology is ever evolving, the slow-moving giant that it was, Sony was left biting the dust. Apple iPod and its successors annihilated Sony’s music player. Steve Jobs, who once admired Sony’s technological prowess, led the demolition job. And then it was Samsung’s turn to launch its relentless attack on Sony’s stronghold on the TV business. Slowly but surely, the Sony TV brand lost its luster; and this was felt worldwide.
Sony’s once dominant market share was eaten up by Samsung. What is worse, another Korean brand, LG, even edged out the once proud and mighty Japanese brand for second place in many countries. To put things in proper perspective, one major retailer commented that when customers walk in to look at the latest television models, they no longer ask for a Sony. Now, it’s all about Samsung and LG.
Another major factor that contributed to Sony’s downfall is its pricing. While it may not be considered as way behind in terms of technology, the high price tags that its TV models carry drove consumers to look in the direction of the alternatives that provide the same viewing experience at a much lower cost. Although cheaper, Samsung and LG are definitely no pushovers in terms of features and overall performance.
This has been the story for the past eight years. Sony accumulated losses from its TV operations of almost $9 billion that forced the hand of CEO Kazuo Hirai to slash the company’s TV sales and production targets significantly.
Getting Back to the Top
The task to reverse Sony’s dwindling TV figures is no doubt a daunting task. However, the company’s top executives are unfazed as they lay out plans to win back the old Sony patrons and win new believers to their fold. The plan involves the streamlining of their Bravia models and focusing on the enhancement and further development of the OLED technology. This would allow the company to produce lighter and thinner models without compromising on quality.
There have been suggestions from investors and industry experts to slow down on the TV business, but Sony remains adamant and vows to fight on while exploring new frontiers. According to Mr. Hirai, creating the best picture and sound is deeply ingrained in Sony’s genes and it would not be that easy to just stop and let go.
Sure, the road back to the top is long and winding. According to analysts, there are a lot more challenges to conquer and the company may have to suffer more periods of financial losses while plodding its way back to its old glory days. And investors are closely watching the road to recovery as charted by the company’s CEO.
So to answer the question “Is Sony losing its TV production market command to other brands?,” the answer is obviously a resounding YES. But if Sony can convincingly show that it is ready to face the new breed of competitors currently dominating the market on equal terms, then a return to the top may be highly possible. That is easier said than done, however, especially with the current leaders continuously working on technological innovations to further improve their products.