Sony Electronics Pvt Ltd has had a stellar past…
The story of Sony’s meteoric rise in the early 60s to technological superiority is also the story of Japan. Japanese electronics companies took over the world electronics market with innovative products that have made life truly different for most people. From the walkman, VHS player to the Bluray player and smartphone, Sony has revolutionized several aspects of the electronic industry. However, for the tech innovators, not all is well.
With the rise of companies such as Apple, Samsung and Dell; Sony now struggles to hold relevance in the current electronic market. This post takes a look at various companies that have swept the market from underneath Sony over many years.
Apple and the Downfall of Sony
Apple Computer Pvt Ltd was at one time just another minor player in the computer space. While their Mac PCs garnered great following among the technology community and their IOS made designer and art community weak in the knees, the company was far from making a Global presence.
Then Apple Computer Pvt ltd did something that can only be described as the most revolutionary decision in the 21st century. It dropped the “Computer” from its name and made a humble launch of a device that today has redefined the music industry and with it end the reign of Sony.
Early 80’s saw the rise of Sony to meteoric levels with several high profile electronic devices gracing the households around the world. One among the most popular such device was the Sony Walkman; A portable Cassette player that lets you carry your favourite songs wherever you went. Sony Walkman was the symbol of a generation of young hip music lovers.
With the launch of the Compact Disc format, Sony managed to gain market share again with the Discman series. All that changed when the iPod made its way into the market in 2001. With over 1000 songs in a small sleek device that fit neatly into your trouser pocket, Apple had literally spelled the end of 3 industries. The Cassette Player/Compact Disc Player, The Record industry and music store.
Apple and the Sony Walkman phone
Sony was one of the early adopters of the MP3 format and made a range of products including MP3 players and smartphones that allowed you to listen to music in said format. As Sony was losing ground in its Walkman cassette players, Sony was quick to bring to market its own range of high quality Mp3 players.
However, as the market had made iPod synonymous to MP3 player, Sony found itself struggling to hold ground in the Mp3 player market against the Apple onslaught. Sony quickly realized that its only way forward is to launch a series of quality phones that lets users listen to music. Its long experience in music and the walkman brand helped Sony quickly build brand salience and users started sweeping up the “W” series of Walkman phones from Sony. Sony managed to beat out significant number of competitors becoming 3rd in most markets behind Motorola and Nokia.
The smartphone was about to have a massive turn around with the launch of the iPhone in 2005. The iPhone not only revolutionized the smartphone industry but also resulted in the fall of Sony from grace. Apple had claimed several victims in its rise including Motorola. The loss for Sony however was much more significant.
Dell and the Laptop/ Personal Computer market
Sony initially marketed its Vaio range of laptops only for the Japanese market. However with increasing global competition and the rise of Dell computers, Sony exited the Japanese market as well. Sony returned to the Laptop market in 1996 rebranding the Vaoi series and launching worldwide. Sony Vaio Laptops initially found slow growth with competition from Dell and IBM still going strong.
However Vaio’s own unique branding around audio and visual experience as well as style made the product stand out among the crowd. Dell however was quick to swoop in with the opportunity and created its own line of high power laptops with great audio and graphic output under the Alienware brand.
Dell would continue to dominate the laptop market well into 2005 when it would eventually be taken over by HP and Lenovo. Sony still struggles to maintain its place in the cluttered laptop/ personal computer market.
Samsung and the Television market
Sony is undoubtedly the largest electronic and entertainment conglomerate of all time. It was obvious that they would find success even in the great Television revolution of the early 60s. While the Television has evolved over years moving from Black and White to Color and then from CRT to LCD and LED and Plasma, Sony has also managed to gain significant advantage through all transitions.
Coupled with the VHS player and then the DVD player and today the PS3, Sony has managed to own the living room for a long time. However Sony is slowly losing its presence in the Television space with Samsung taking over in early 2000s. Sony today holds just over 8% of the Television market with Samsung and LG having 30% and 15.1% respectively.
Clearly Sony’s fall from grace has been less than ideal
Sony today is fighting on all fronts with multiple competitors in the electronic industry.
While Samsung has already taken over the smartphone market and the television market, HP and Apple have shared the Personal computer space between them leaving little for Sony except the gaming and multimedia market with the PS3. Sony is soon losing relevance in the market.
It might take higher consolidation and perhaps few sacrifices to help Sony consolidate and fight back at least on one front. For now Sony has already focused on building a home entertainment ecosystem with seamless interaction between its range of Personal computers, Smartphones and entertainment devices.
It may still be a long way away for Sony to see the glory days of yesteryears but for now it’s a tough road ahead for Sony.
[About the Author: Ashwin Sreekumar heads Marketing at MySmartprice and is an MS graduate from State University of New York, University at Buffalo. He has avid interest in eCommerce, marketing , technology and smartphones.]