October 26, 2020

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The first wave of Sony, the second wave of Apple

The first wave of Sony, the second wave of Apple
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From the early 1980s to the 1990s, Sony performed well. However, Apple is gradually overtaking it. The reason for this earth-shattering subversion has been analyzed in the previous article “Sony before, Apple (Part 1)” . In a world where software is increasingly dominant, Sony is a hardware company. After learning from the pain, can Sony reproduce the glory of the Walkman era?

This article from the micro-channel public number: CEIBS Business Review (ID: CEIBS-cbr) , Author: Hu Yong, Peking University Professor of Journalism and Communication, a member of the “information society 50 Forum” Editor: Zhou Qi, original title “Who says Sony Can’t Dance”, head picture from: Visual China

1. The silo culture that exhausts forward energy

Whether publicly or privately, Sony’s senior management has a deep understanding of many basic challenges facing the company: different departments need to work better together to provide a more unified user experience and to innovate.

However, recent Sony leaders have found it difficult to exercise power over this huge company. After Sony’s legendary founders retired, Sony was caught in endless quarrels between various factions, exhausting the precious energy needed to move forward.

Idei proposed “to do a second business venture” and formulated the “Transformation 60” reorganization plan, aiming to inject new vitality into the company on the 60th anniversary of Sony in 2006, but this reorganization effort basically did not work. After Stringer took office, he put forward the slogan “Sony United”, trying to combine the historically complicated departments into a whole, but with little success. He declared at the first press conference when he took office as CEO that he would “accelerate the company’s cross-department cooperation, revitalize Sony and promote creativity.” However, in 2006, he was full of confidence in wanting to transform Sony, and by 2013 he had completely abandoned this idea.

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The biggest challenge facing Stringer’s successor, Kazuo Hirai, is still to break the closed state of internal fighting within the department . He proposed the “One Sony” strategy for this, calling on all departments to unite and strive to reorganize the numerous subsidiaries into a more cohesive whole. However, the inertia of an established company is too strong to be overcome by one or two generations of leaders. Sony’s current CEO Kenichiro Yoshida admits: “It takes time to change the company’s culture. But we have to make changes that are flatter, faster, and more collaborative.”

Sony’s current CEO Kenichiro Yoshida

1. The silo culture that exhausts forward energy

Whether publicly or privately, Sony’s senior management has a deep understanding of many basic challenges facing the company: different departments need to work better together to provide a more unified user experience and to innovate.

However, recent Sony leaders have found it difficult to exercise power over this huge company. After Sony’s legendary founders retired, Sony was caught in endless quarrels between various factions, exhausting the precious energy needed to move forward.

Idei proposed “to do a second business venture” and formulated the “Transformation 60” reorganization plan, aiming to inject new vitality into the company on the 60th anniversary of Sony in 2006, but this reorganization effort basically did not work. After Stringer took office, he put forward the slogan “Sony United”, trying to combine the historically complicated departments into a whole, but with little success. He declared at the first press conference when he took office as CEO that he would “accelerate the company’s cross-department cooperation, revitalize Sony and promote creativity.” However, in 2006, he was full of confidence in wanting to transform Sony, and by 2013 he had completely abandoned this idea.

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The biggest challenge facing Stringer’s successor, Kazuo Hirai, is still to break the closed state of internal fighting within the department . He proposed the “One Sony” strategy for this, calling on all departments to unite and strive to reorganize the numerous subsidiaries into a more cohesive whole. However, the inertia of an established company is too strong to be overcome by one or two generations of leaders. Sony’s current CEO Kenichiro Yoshida admits: “It takes time to change the company’s culture. But we have to make changes that are flatter, faster, and more collaborative.”

Even worse is the internal friction in product development. Sony clearly has a powerful screen, battery, and camera system, but the mobile phone it makes is not competitive at all in the market. This is because all Sony departments are led by performance, which suppresses collaboration capabilities. For example, the imaging department refuses to provide camera technology to the mobile phone department because it is worried that mobile phones have the same camera experience as the mirrorless camera, which will affect the sales performance of their department. Competitive departments are jealous of each other’s budgets, and communication barriers make innovation difficult.

The commercialization of CD, an outstanding product of the Oga era, is the result of the cooperation of various departments of Sony across departmental boundaries. Ohe later said: “There is no precedent that fully utilizes all the power of the Sony Group like CD.” Unfortunately, there is no subsequent precedent. The key is that his strategy of driving Sony with two wheels of hardware and software laid out by him alone would be impossible to talk about without the synergy created by full cooperation. Although Sony has the strength in a single product, unless it builds an ecosystem with a strong user base, it will never reach the high level of Apple: the perfect combination of hardware, software and peripherals creates a wonderful experience that makes a certain The success of the product can also promote the sales of all related products.

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If Sony’s troubles caused more sighs than other Japanese technology companies, it’s because it would have been most likely to accomplish Apple’s feat: switching to network hardware and digital distribution. Its electronics department can manufacture first-class equipment: music players, game consoles, cell phones and computers, and its entertainment department—movie studios and music companies—have exclusive entertainment content. However, these departments are working independently and cannot work together. Instead, Apple, a niche computer manufacturer with no entertainment assets, has swept the field.