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Sony Corporation Executive Summary

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Sony Corporation Executive Summary

Sony's current financial difficulties are tied into its corporate culture which
were stated over 30 years ago. With such a large
multinational corporation, greater planning and more use of
strategies should be pursued. Sony could start with the
implementation of a new mission statement, with profit and
benefits of the company tied more closely to everyday
operations. Internally, the four forces, the management, the
designers, the production and the marketing should achieve
better communication and cooperation. Alliance and
cooperation between competitors should also be actively
sort after in order to create standards in new fields. Sony
should aim at being the leader instead of being the
maverick. As for cost cutting, Sony should seriously
consider setting up operations in other Asian countries in
order to take advantage of the cheap labour and the
budding markets. Finally, diversification, instead of pursuing
the fast changing and easily imitated consumer goods
market, Sony should use its technological know-how for
high-end business and office equipment. With SWOT
analysis and Porter's competitive forces model, we can
view that the market is much more competitive with less
profit margins and lead-time for product innovation. The
conclusion is that change is needed in Sony. However,even
with strategirial and structure change, the Sony spirit of
innovation should remain intact because that is what made
Sony grow and would make it stay strong. Introduction
The first thing that comes to peoples minds of the company
and products of Sony is its
high-technology-filled-with-gadgets electronic goods and
innovation. It was also this innovation that make Sony the
greatest company that started in post-war Japan. Sony has
used its innovation in building markets out of thin air,
created a multibillion, multinational electronic empire with
products such as the transistor radio, the Trinitron, the
Walk-in and the VTR. that changed everyday household
lives forever. However, this consumer targeted quest for
excellence and constant innovation instead of targeting
mainly at profit also has a lot to do with current crisis Sony
is facing - sales and profits are down or are slowing down,
capital investment cost and R&D are climbing, competitors
are moving in with copycats, the battle between VHS and
Beta and the search for a smash hit product such as the
Trinitron or the Walk-in. This volatility and emphasis (or
gambling) on new products instead of concentrating on
profit and loss statements have always been a part of Sony
since its beginning days. For each successful product (i.e.
transistor radio and Trinitron), R&D cost often ran so high
that the they pushed the firm to the verge of bankruptcy.
This can also be seen through the eyes of the investor in
which although sales have increased tremendously

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Sony Corporation         Executive Summary         Forces Model         Thin Air         Mission Statement         Corporate Culture         Cooperation        

throughout the past twenty years, the stock price has
remained relatively low. History and Culture The current
Sony corporation has a unique culture which is firmly
rooted in her history especially in relationship to her two
founders, Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. Ibuka and
Morita were both dedicated electrical engineers and
geniuses above their business talents. Both gave insights
and visions in what the company should make and how it
should be made. Ibuka, especially, gave constant advice
and suggestions to the engineers involved in projects from
the earlier on transistor radios to Walkmans. This created
the umbrella strategy in which Sony operates under where
the top management, especially Ibuka, Morita and now
Norio Ohga gave the general direction in which the lower
engineers actively learned, developed and improved on the
vision/idea. Therefore, although there is a planned direction,
the actual product development through launching is
emergent with great flexibility. Although the research and
development section of Sony differs greatly from other
companies with its great flexibility, Sony, in its essence is
still a traditional Japanese company in many ways. There is
life-time employment, with strong norms and values which
in turn create strategies through their actions. Status is given
(the crystal award) instead of bonuses (not significant
amount) for superior achievement. There is also the strong
seniority system such as the mentor and apprentice
relationship that is typical of a Japanese firm. All this can be
classified as the cultural school in which strategy formation
is of collective behaviour. Collective vision and stress on
human resource, which is typical of many Japanese, can be
clearly seen in the mission statement "Management
Policies". Weaknesses and Threats Referring to Exhibit 1,
sales has slowed down considerably since the beginning of
the 80s. In the domestic market, sales actually decreased
by 7.22%. The overseas market expanded both in real
terms and relative to total sales, but slowed down to
around 10% a year. This can be seen as the vacuum period
between one hit product, the Walkman, and its succession.
As mentioned by Ibuka, business is conducted in a ten year
cycle. However, in the eighties, the product might still take
a few years to develop, but the time reaping the results and
profits might be much less. As seen in the VTR example,
both the VHS and Beta were developed by Sony.
However, in a short time, Matsushita could come up with a
competitive product based on Sony's technology.
Therefore, it is fair to say that other electronic firms would
be able to copy Sony's technology in a much shorter time
while offering more competitive prices. The margin for
technology advancement is therefore diminishing.
Associated with innovation is the capital expenditure cost
and return on investment ratio. As seen from Exhibit 1,
capital expenditure has risen dramatically, especially in
1981, due to the automation of plants. However, the return
on investment has decreased. Spending around 10% of
sales on capital investment is by all company standards an
extremely high figure. The question is that does this high
rate of investment represent corresponding growth in
profitability? As mentioned above, the diminishing returns
from product innovation is apparent. However, the internal
dimension also poses as much of a problem. With its great
freedom, research and development are divided into small
teams which are free to pursue their interest with little
reference to "how it will fit into a market, what the product
can do, how well it will function or how it could be used by
customers." Secret projects without management knowing
about them until "secret reports" are submitted are of
common practice. With this kind of practice, there is lack
of communication between management and R&D and
threat of duplication of resources among the small groups.
There is also a lack of general direction. This would be
especially prominent when Ibuka and Morita, the symbolic
leaders and founders retire. This is because the two in
many ways act as the main guidance and bridge between
management and the engineers. Therefore, there is also a
succession problem. Sony has always been a leader in
technology, creating markets by looking for new markets
where bigger, well-established companies are not a threat.
However, new products such as VTR, the Walk-in and the
Mavica involve both hardware and software. Sony can no
longer just produce superb quality machines and expect
them to sell. The software would also have to be available.
For the Walkman, cassette tapes were well established but
for the Beta system and Mavica, a standard has yet to be
set. For example, the images of Mavica would be held on a
high density magnetic disk but Kodak, 3M and Sony all
have different systems and are not compatible. The Mavica
system also stands alone with little compatibility with
conventional systems and little transitional interfaces. This
leads to the problem of cooperation where Sony is often
the maverick, alone creating markets. With Sony entering
markets such as the VTR with no standards, it might be
beneficial to both Sony and other vendors if they
cooperated instead of competing on conflicting software
that supports the systems. This could also be seen in
Exhibit 2, the Porter competitive forces mode: new entrants
from other Asian countries, other Japanese industry
competitors, substitutes and buyers are all strong and much
stronger than 20 years ago which reinforce the weakness of
Sony acting alone. Last but not least, Sony lacks strategy.
Product development, manufacturing and marketing are all
well established but the firm lacks any formal long term
direction. The original mission statement is also outdated
with its references to W.W.II. Short term strategy is also
lacking and there is little emphasis on profit and
accountability of research and development of products.
The result: a company with strong components but unable
to coordinate in a coherent way in order to achieve
maximum potential. Strengths and Opportunities The
greatest asset of Sony is of its human capital, especially its
engineers which make up the R&D department. Their
constant innovation is crucial for a consumer electronic firm
which specializes in audio-visual equipment and the higher
profit margin, which comes from being the leader of the
pact. Subsidiaries are also well established, such as in the
United States and Europe which give Sony a distinct local
hands-on knowledge of the local market. It also makes
Sony an international corporation, bringing together the
talents and best of strategies of both world to the
organization. Besides the employees, the two founders,
Ibuka and Morita also legends in their fields which they
create vision and sense of direction for the organization.
The also acts as bridges between the employees and the
management. The self promoting system and job rotating
systems creates satisfaction for employees and give them
greater exposure to all aspects of the business. Ideally, this
would produce better products as engineers gain
knowledge on consumer needs while marketing people
engaged in the production and can give their point of view.
The innovative style also stems from the "never copy
others" culture, the generous funding of the R&D and huge
amounts in capital investments. As described by Ibuka,"It
also stems from consumer driven in which technology is
targeted at consumers or business while American
electronic industry are spoiled be military and space
applications." Sony has been ahead in the race of Video
Tape Recorders and digital imaging techniques in Mavica
which both offer tremendous potential of household
penetration and sales. It also has the opportunity to set up
standards and dominate the field. Sony has also acquired
enough technology to increase width by going into the high
technology business fields. With the rise of the Asian
countries, Sony also has the opportunity to make use of
them for markets and for cheap labour. Recommendations
Building of Strategy With the succession of the two
founders at hand, it would be very difficult for the company
to find someone as visionary, as respected and with the
same engineering background to lead the umbrella strategy
company. With Sony as a much international company with
major branches in Europe and the United States and stocks
listed in 23 stock exchanges, the Japanese cultural school
strategy is not sufficient. Becoming a mature company, the
strategy should also change to more profit orientated.
There should also be greater emphasis on market share,
especially in Japan where Sony's market is shrinking.
Strategy should be aimed at greater control and
communication between manager and workers, especially
the engineers in the R&D Department. A more planned
strategy should be adopted, which should outline the
general direction of the company. Diversification One
direction which is possible is concentrating more on
electronic know how in non-consumer business. Currently,
the buyer has much more choosing power and competition
is fierce (Exhibit 2). The competitors are also able to copy
the product in a much shorter time. To create larger profit
margins, Sony should concentrate on the business sector
and industries, supplying high technology equipment and
parts. This would make full use of the R&D Department,
the strongest advantage of Sony without waiting for the
price cutting and technology adaptation to fit the average
consumers needs. This would also make Sony less
dependent on coming up with a steady stream of relatively
short-lived hit products, and able to use its unique talents in
video and semiconductor technology to create its version of
the office of the future. Although the Sony name is often
related to expensive, high-profit end of the market, the
organization should also expand its product range by
offering lower priced, simpler featured products that would
compete head on with other copycats. With the lower
priced line, Sony can also increase its market shares in both
overseas and Japanese markets. Alliance and Cooperation
Sony should try to become a leader instead of a maverick.
The difference is great, the leader, besides a great
innovator, should also be a great coordinator. New
products, which involve both hardware and software such
as the Mavica, should try to achieve industry wide
standards. The standard may not be the best or the one
created by Sony, but Sony, by pioneering in the field first,
would already have a significant head start and the
standards is just a way to ensure stability to allow Sony to
concentrate on product development and improvement.
This is because Sony is not large and strong enough to
acquire and provide both software and hardware for one
product. They also lack the know-how to the creative
software market. Consumers also prefer to have the ability
to choose between competitive equipment. Internally, the
different R&D groups should cooperate more. The product
line should also be made more compatible with one another
which is crucial through the communication between groups
and managers, i.e. no more secret projects. Products
should be made with higher added value and longer life
rather than making frequent model changes. This is also a
shift from a manufacturer-orientated mentality to a
consumer-orientated mentality, which is a way to save
natural resources. The brand-line compatibility also builds
brand loyalty for consumers. In relationship with the other
Japanese consumer electronic firms, a more cooperative
attitude should also be taken. Just like when Japanese took
over the US market through cheap yet quality consumer
goods, other Asian countries such as Taiwan and South
Korea, with their lower labour cost, pose as great
competitors at the lower end of consumer goods.
Therefore, the Japanese firms should cooperate in setting
up standards in high technology areas in order to reap
maximum profits and extend the technological lead-time
over their fellow Asian countries. Cost Cutting Cost cutting
is important because R&D plays an integral part in the
success of Sony and cannot be cut drastically although it
gobbles up 10% of sales. Therefore, the only way to
improve profit margins is to cut cost. Sony currently has
factories in the United States and Japan. Although this is
good for relationship of the firm in a foreign firm and offers
a chance to pay suppliers with local currencies, Sony is not
fully making use of other lower cost areas in the world,
especially Asian countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and
the Philippines etc. By setting up factories in these
countries, Sony can take advantage of their cheap labour
and also get a head start in their budding consumer
markets. As mentioned above, products should be refined
instead of reinvented so that there would be less set up cost
and greater automation could be achieved. Integration of
production, design and marketing In many ways, designing
and developing of a product is separate from the
production and marketing. Although there is job rotation,
the design stage is backed by intuition and experience
rather than market research and analysis. Often, the rational
is that it is the marketing personnel's job to find a market
for a product after it has been developed instead of the
other way round. To cure this phenomenon, R&D should
listen more to what the consumer needs and then innovate
instead of always creating new markets. With great
freedom, the designing team should also take on greater
responsibility in making the product fit to the current
production pattern and marketing aims. They should also
be made more responsible to the profit and lost of the
particular product. Empowering these three separate
groups create conflict, but it also brings these separate
efficient groups together achieving synergy. Implementation
Internally, strategy should be reviewed beginning with
renewing the corporate goals. It should integrate together
both the Japanese work ethic and its western counterparts.
This is possible, because Sony is a multinational
corporation with employees and customers in many
different countries. This involves writing the importance of
profits and its responsibility to shareholders in the
statement. Integration of the company, the designing,
production and marketing should be encouraged, with
increased communication between each groupand the
management acting as liaison and guidance. The
management should be providing the organization with
specific goals and strategies for the short and long term.
These changes are intended to balance business Vs
engineering. Setting up alliances with fellow electronic
manufacturers / competitor is crucial to mutual benefit so
should be pursued as soon as possible. In areas such as the
VTR, Sony has to decide what standard the world is
adapting and make decisions to cut off setbacks. For new
products such as the Mavica, new standards for the
industry should be actively sort after with commitment from
other competitors and conventional producers. This is also
a change in culture for Sony so top management has to
actively push and pursue for this direction. Cost cutting,
with emphasis in making use of lower cost of labour in the
Asian developing countries should then be implemented.
This could also be seen as a long term strategy. The work
force could also be made more flexible. Finally,
diversification, with emphasis on making business supplies a
major part of Sony's business. This is one of the long term
goals in which Sony should thrive to achieve. However, the
end product ratio between consumer and business
products should be constantly reviewed throughout the
process to achieve the optimum mix. Conclusion Although
other electronic firms are taking market share and profits
from Sony by being copycats, the heart of Sony's success,
the innovative spirit and quest of excellence and perfection
cannot be copied. Sony's main task is to integrate its talent
by placing common goals and priority for this increasing
competitive market. Sony also has the potential to innovate
into a company with international operations as well as
culture since it was one of the first Japanese companies to
set up a main branch in the United States. With strategy
and luck, Sony could become a great firm as it was and will

This article is about the Japanese conglomerate. For other uses, see Sony (disambiguation).

Sony Corporation(ソニー株式会社,Sonī Kabushiki Kaisha, SOH-nee, stylized as SONY) is a Japanesemultinationalconglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan, Minato, Tokyo.[4][1] Its diversified business includes consumer and professional electronics, gaming, entertainment and financial services.[5] The company is one of the leading manufacturers of electronic products for the consumer and professional markets.[6] Sony was ranked 105th on the 2017 list of Fortune Global 500.[7]

Sony Corporation is the electronics business unit and the parent company of the Sony Group (ソニー・グループ,Sonī Gurūpu), which is engaged in business through its four operating components: electronics (AV, IT & communication products, semiconductors, video games, network services and medical business), motion pictures (movies and TV shows), music (record labels and music publishing) and financial services (banking and insurance).[8][9][10] These make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. The group consists of Sony Corporation, Sony Pictures, Sony Mobile, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Sony Music, Sony Financial Holdings and others.

Sony is among the semiconductor sales leaders [11] and as of 2016, the fifth-largest television manufacturer in the world after Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, TCL and Hisense.[12][13]

The company's current slogan is BE MOVED. Their former slogans were The One and Only (1980–1982), It's a Sony (1982–2002), (2005–2009)[14], and make.believe (2009–2014).[15]

Sony has a weak tie to the Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) keiretsu, the successor to the Mitsui keiretsu.[16]


Main article: History of Sony

Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo[edit]

Sony began in the wake of World War II. In 1946, Masaru Ibuka started an electronics shop in a department store building in Tokyo. The company started with a capital of ¥190,000[17] and a total of eight employees.[18] In May 1946, Ibuka was joined by Akio Morita to found a company called Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (東京通信工業,Tōkyō Tsūshin Kōgyō)[19][20] (Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation). The company built Japan's first tape recorder, called the Type-G.[19] In 1958, the company changed its name to "Sony".[21]


When Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo was looking for a romanized name to use to market themselves, they strongly considered using their initials, TTK. The primary reason they did not is that the railway company Tokyo Kyuko was known as TTK.[19] The company occasionally used the acronym "Totsuko" in Japan, but during his visit to the United States, Morita discovered that Americans had trouble pronouncing that name. Another early name that was tried out for a while was "Tokyo Teletech" until Akio Morita discovered that there was an American company already using Teletech as a brand name.[22]

The name "Sony" was chosen for the brand as a mix of two words: one was the Latin word "sonus", which is the root of sonic and sound, and the other was "sonny", a common slang term used in 1950s America to call a young boy.[6] In the 1950s Japan "sonny boys", was a loan word into Japanese which connoted smart and presentable young men, which Sony founders Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka considered themselves to be.[6]

The first Sony-branded product, the TR-55transistor radio, appeared in 1955 but the company name did not change to Sony until January 1958.[23]

At the time of the change, it was extremely unusual for a Japanese company to use Roman letters to spell its name instead of writing it in kanji. The move was not without opposition: TTK's principal bank at the time, Mitsui, had strong feelings about the name. They pushed for a name such as Sony Electronic Industries, or Sony Teletech. Akio Morita was firm, however, as he did not want the company name tied to any particular industry. Eventually, both Ibuka and Mitsui Bank's chairman gave their approval.[19]


According to Schiffer, Sony's TR-63 radio "cracked open the U.S. market and launched the new industry of consumer microelectronics." By the mid-1950s, American teens had begun buying portable transistor radios in huge numbers, helping to propel the fledgling industry from an estimated 100,000 units in 1955 to 5 million units by the end of 1968.[citation needed]

Sony co-founder Akio Morita founded Sony Corporation of America in 1960.[18] In the process, he was struck by the mobility of employees between American companies, which was unheard of in Japan at that time.[18] When he returned to Japan, he encouraged experienced, middle-aged employees of other companies to reevaluate their careers and consider joining Sony.[18] The company filled many positions in this manner, and inspired other Japanese companies to do the same.[18] Moreover, Sony played a major role in the development of Japan as a powerful exporter during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.[24] It also helped to significantly improve American perceptions of "made in Japan" products.[25] Known for its production quality, Sony was able to charge above-market prices for its consumer electronics and resisted lowering prices.[25]

In 1971, Masaru Ibuka handed the position of president over to his co-founder Akio Morita. Sony began a life insurance company in 1979, one of its many peripheral businesses. Amid a global recession in the early 1980s, electronics sales dropped and the company was forced to cut prices.[25] Sony's profits fell sharply. "It's over for Sony," one analyst concluded. "The company's best days are behind it."[25] Around that time, Norio Ohga took up the role of president. He encouraged the development of the Compact Disc in the 1970s and 1980s, and of the PlayStation in the early 1990s. Ohga went on to purchase CBS Records in 1988 and Columbia Pictures in 1989, greatly expanding Sony's media presence. Ohga would succeed Morita as chief executive officer in 1989.[26][citation needed] Under the vision of co-founder Akio Morita[27] and his successors, the company had aggressively expanded into new businesses.[24] Part of its motivation for doing so was the pursuit of "convergence," linking film, music and digital electronics via the Internet.[24] This expansion proved unrewarding and unprofitable,[24] threatening Sony's ability to charge a premium on its products[27] as well as its brand name.[27] In 2005, Howard Stringer replaced Nobuyuki Idei as chief executive officer, marking the first time that a foreigner had run a major Japanese electronics firm. Stringer helped to reinvigorate the company's struggling media businesses, encouraging blockbusters such as Spider-Man while cutting 9,000 jobs.[24] He hoped to sell off peripheral business and focus the company again on electronics.[27] Furthermore, he aimed to increase cooperation between business units,[27] which he described as "silos" operating in isolation from one another.[28] In a bid to provide a unified brand for its global operations, Sony introduced a slogan known as "make.believe" in 2009.[26][citation needed]

Despite some successes, the company faced continued struggles in the mid- to late-2000s.[24] In 2012, Kazuo Hirai was promoted to president and CEO, replacing Stringer. Shortly thereafter, Hirai outlined his company-wide initiative, named "One Sony" to revive Sony from years of financial losses and bureaucratic management structure, which proved difficult for former CEO Stringer to accomplish, partly due to differences in business culture and native languages between Stringer and some of Sony's Japanese divisions and subsidiaries. Hirai outlined three major areas of focus for Sony's electronics business, which include imaging technology, gaming and mobile technology, as well as a focus on reducing the major losses from the television business.[29]

In February 2014, Sony announced the sale of its Vaio PC division to a new corporation owned by investment fund Japan Industrial Partners and spinning its TV division into its own corporation as to make it more nimble to turn the unit around from past losses totaling $7.8 billion over a decade.[30] Later that month, they announced that they would be closing 20 stores.[31] In April, the company announced that they would be selling 9.5 million shares in Square Enix (roughly 8.2 percent of the game company's total shares) in a deal worth approximately $48 million.[32] In May 2014 the company announced it was forming two joint ventures with Shanghai Oriental Pearl Group to manufacture and market Sony's PlayStation games consoles and associated software in China.[33]

Formats and technologies[edit]

Further information: List of Sony trademarks

Sony has historically been notable for creating its own in-house standards for new recording and storage technologies, instead of adopting those of other manufacturers and standards bodies. Sony (either alone or with partners) has introduced several of the most popular recording formats, including the floppy disk, Compact Disc and Blu-ray Disc.

Video recording[edit]

The company launched the Betamaxvideocassette recording format in 1975. Sony became embroiled in the infamous videotape format war of the early 1980s, when Sony was marketing the Betamax system for video cassette recorders against the VHS format developed by JVC. In the end, VHS gained critical mass in the marketbase and became the worldwide standard for consumer VCRs.

While Betamax is for all practical purposes an obsolete format, a professional-oriented component video format called Betacam that was derived from Betamax is still used today, especially in the television industry, although far less so in recent years with the introduction of digital and high definition.

In 1985, Sony launched their Handycam products and the Video8 format. Video8 and the follow-on hi-band Hi8 format became popular in the consumer camcorder market. In 1987 Sony launched the 4 mm DAT or Digital Audio Tape as a new digital audio tape standard.

Audio recording[edit]

In 1979, the Walkman brand was introduced, in the form of the world's first portable music player using the compact cassette format. Sony introduced the MiniDisc format in 1992 as an alternative to Philips DCC or Digital Compact Cassette and as a successor to the compact cassette. Since the introduction of MiniDisc, Sony has attempted to promote its own audio compression technologies under the ATRAC brand, against the more widely used MP3. Until late 2004, Sony's Network Walkman line of digital portable music players did not support the MP3 standard natively.

In 2004, Sony built upon the MiniDisc format by releasing Hi-MD. Hi-MD allows the playback and recording of audio on newly introduced 1 GB Hi-MD discs in addition to playback and recording on regular MiniDiscs. In addition to saving audio on the discs, Hi-MD allows the storage of computer files such as documents, videos and photos.

Audio encoding[edit]

In 1993, Sony challenged the industry standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound format with a newer and more advanced[citation needed] proprietary motion picture digital audio format called SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound). This format employed eight channels (7.1) of audio opposed to just six used in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the time. Ultimately, SDDS has been vastly overshadowed by the preferred DTS (Digital Theatre System) and Dolby Digital standards in the motion picture industry. SDDS was solely developed for use in the theatre circuit; Sony never intended to develop a home theatre version of SDDS.[34][citation needed]

Sony and Philips jointly developed the Sony-Philips digital interface format (S/PDIF) and the high-fidelity audio system SACD. The latter has since been entrenched in a format war with DVD-Audio. At present, neither has gained a major foothold with the general public. CDs are preferred by consumers because of ubiquitous presence of CD drives in consumer devices.[citation needed]

Optical storage[edit]

In 1983, Sony followed their counterpart Philips to the Compact Disc (CD). In addition to developing consumer-based recording media, after the launch of the CD Sony began development of commercially based recording media. In 1986 they launched Write-Once optical discs (WO) and in 1988 launched Magneto-optical discs which were around 125MB size for the specific use of archival data storage.[35] In 1984, Sony launched the Discman series which extended their Walkman brand to portable CD products.

In the early 1990s, two high-density optical storage standards were being developed: one was the MultiMedia Compact Disc (MMCD), backed by Philips and Sony, and the other was the Super Density disc (SD), supported by Toshiba and many others. Philips and Sony abandoned their MMCD format and agreed upon Toshiba's SD format with only one modification. The unified disc format was called DVD and was introduced in 1997.

Sony was one of the leading developers of the Blu-ray Disc optical disc format, the newest standard for disc-based content delivery. The first Blu-ray players became commercially available in 2006. The format emerged as the standard for HD media over the competing format, Toshiba's HD DVD, after a two-year-long high definition optical disc format war.

Disk storage[edit]

In 1983, Sony introduced 90 mm micro diskettes (better known as 3.5-inch (89 mm) floppy disks), which it had developed at a time when there were 4" floppy disks, and a lot of variations from different companies, to replace the then on-going 5.25" floppy disks. Sony had great success and the format became dominant. 3.5" floppy disks gradually became obsolete as they were replaced by current media formats.[36][34][citation needed]

Flash memory[edit]

Sony launched in 1998, their Memory Stick format, flash memory cards for use in Sony lines of digital cameras and portable music players. It has seen little support outside of Sony's own products, with Secure Digital cards (SD) commanding considerably greater popularity. Sony has made updates to the Memory Stick format with Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick Micro.

Business units[edit]

Sony offers products in a variety of product lines around the world.[37] Sony has developed a music playing robot called Rolly, dog-shaped robots called AIBO and a humanoid robot called QRIO.

As of 1 April 2016, Sony is organized into the following business segments: Mobile Communications (MC), Game & Network Services (G&NS), Imaging Products & Solutions (IP&S), Home Entertainment & Sound (HE&S), Semiconductors, Components, Pictures, Music, Financial Services and All Other.[38] The network and medical businesses are included in the G&NS and IP&S, respectively.[39]


Sony Corporation[edit]

Sony Corporation is the electronics business unit and the parent company of the Sony Group. It primarily conducts strategic business planning of the group, research and development (R&D), planning, designing and marketing for electronics products. Its subsidiaries such as Sony Global Manufacturing & Operations Corporation (SGMO; 4 plants in Japan), Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (7 plants in Japan), Sony Storage Media and Devices Corporation, Sony Energy Devices Corporation and its subsidiaries outside Japan (Brazil, China, UK (Wales), India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Ireland and United States) are responsible for manufacturing as well as product engineering (SGMO [clarification needed] is also responsible for customer service operations). In 2012, Sony rolled most of its consumer content services (including video, music and gaming) into the Sony Entertainment Network.


Sony produced the world's first portable music player, the Walkman in 1979. This line fostered a fundamental change in music listening habits by allowing people to carry music with them and listen to music through lightweight headphones. Walkman originally referred to portable audio cassette players. The company now uses the Walkman brand to market its portable audio and video players as well as a line of former Sony Ericsson mobile phones.

Sony utilized a related brand, Discman, to refer to its CD players. It dropped this name in the late 1990s.


Sony produced computers (MSXhome computers and NEWSworkstations) during the 1980s. The company withdrew from the computer business around 1990. Sony entered again into the global computer market under the new VAIO brand, began in 1996. Short for "Video Audio Integrated Operation", the line was the first computer brand to highlight visual-audio features.[28]

Sony faced considerable controversy when some of its laptop batteries exploded and caught fire in 2006, resulting in the largest computer-related recall to that point in history.[40][41][42]

In a bid to join the tablet computer market, the company launched its Sony Tablet line of Android tablets in 2011. Since 2012, Sony's Android products have been marketed under the Xperia brand used for its smartphones.[43]

On 4 February 2014, Sony announced that it would sell its VAIO PC business due to poor sales[44] and Japanese company Japan Industrial Partners (JIP) will purchase the VAIO brand, with the deal finalized by the end of March 2014.[45] Sony maintains a minority stake in the new, independent company.

Photography and videography[edit]

Sony offers a wide range of digital cameras. Point-and-shoot models adopt the Cyber-shot name, while digital single-lens reflex models are branded using Alpha.

The first Cyber-shot was introduced in 1996. At the time, digital cameras were a relative novelty. Sony's market share of the digital camera market fell from a high of 20% to 9% by 2005.[28]

Sony entered the market for digital single-lens reflex cameras in 2006 when it acquired the camera business of Konica Minolta. Sony rebranded the company's line of cameras as its Alpha line. Sony is the world's third largest manufacturer of the cameras, behind Canon and Nikon respectively.

There are also a variety of Camcorders which are manufactured by Sony.


In 1968, Sony introduced the Trinitronbrand name for its lines of aperture grillecathode ray tube televisions and (later) computer monitors. Sony stopped production of Trinitron for most markets, but continued producing sets for markets such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. Sony discontinued its series of Trinitron computer monitors in 2005. The company discontinued the last Trinitron-based television set in the USA in early 2007. The end of Trinitron marked the end of Sony's analog television sets and monitors.

Sony used the LCD WEGA name for its LCD TVs until summer 2005. The company then introduced the BRAVIA name. BRAVIA is an in house brand owned by Sony which produces high-definition LCD televisions, projection TVs and front projectors, home cinemas and the BRAVIA home theatre range. All Sony high-definition flat-panel LCD televisions in North America have carried the logo for BRAVIA since 2005. Sony is the third-largest maker of televisions in the world.[46] As of 2012[update], Sony's television business has been unprofitable for eight years.[46]

In December 2011, Sony agreed to sell all stake in an LCD joint venture with Samsung Electronics for about $940 million.[47] On 28 March 2012, Sony Corporation and Sharp Corporation announced that they have agreed to further amend the joint venture agreement originally executed by the parties in July 2009, as amended in April 2011, for the establishment and operation of Sharp Display Products Corporation ("SDP"), a joint venture to produce and sell large-sized LCD panels and modules.[48]

On 9 November 2015, Sony announced that they are going to stop producing Betamax Tapes in March 2016.[49]

Sony also sells a range of DVD players. It has shifted its focus in recent years to promoting the Blu-ray format, including discs and players.

Semiconductor and components[edit]

Sony produces a wide range of semiconductors and electronic components including image sensors (Exmor), image processor (BIONZ), laser diodes, system LSIs, mixed-signal LSIs, OLED panels, etc. The company has a strong presence in the image sensor market. Sony-manufactured CMOS image sensors are widely used in digital cameras, tablet computers and smartphones.

Medical-related business[edit]

Sony has targeted medical, healthcare and biotechnology business as a growth sector in the future. The company acquired iCyt Mission Technology, Inc. (renamed Sony Biotechnology Inc. in 2012), a manufacture of flow cytometers, in 2010 and Micronics, Inc., a developer of microfluidics-based diagnostic tools, in 2011.

In 2012, Sony announced that it will acquire all shares of So-net Entertainment Corporation, which is the majority shareholder of M3, Inc., an operator of portal sites (, MR-kun, MDLinx and MEDI:GATE) for healthcare professionals.

On 28 September 2012, Olympus and Sony announced that the two companies will establish a joint venture to develop new surgical endoscopes with 4K resolution (or higher) and 3D capability.[50] Sony Olympus Medical Solutions Inc. (Sony 51%, Olympus 49%) was established on 16 April 2013.[51]

On 28 February 2014, Sony, M3 and Illumina established a joint venture called P5, Inc. to provide a genome analysis service for research institutions and enterprises in Japan.[52]

Sony Mobile Communications[edit]

Main article: Sony Mobile

Sony Mobile Communications Inc. (formerly Sony Ericsson) is a multinationalmobile phone manufacturing company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan and a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corporation.

In 2001, Sony entered into a joint venture with Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson, forming Sony Ericsson.[53] Initial sales were rocky, and the company posted losses in 2001 and 2002. However, SMC reached a profit in 2003. Sony Ericsson distinguished itself with multimedia-capable mobile phones, which included features such as cameras. These were unusual for the time. Despite their innovations, SMC faced intense competition from Apple's iPhone, released in 2007. From 2008 to 2010, amid a global recession, SMC slashed its workforce by several thousand. Sony acquired Ericsson's share of the venture in 2012 for over US$1 billion.[53] In 2009, SMC was the fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world (after Nokia, Samsung and LG).[54] By 2010, its market share had fallen to sixth place.[55] Sony Mobile Communications now focuses exclusively on the smartphone market under the Xperia name. In 2015, Sony released Xperia Z5 Premium in Canada following US and Europe.[56]

In the year 2013, Sony contributed to two percent of the mobile phone market with 37 million mobile phones sold.[57]

Sony Interactive Entertainment[edit]

Main article: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Sony Interactive Entertainment (formerly Sony Computer Entertainment) is best known for producing the popular line of PlayStation consoles. The line grew out of a failed partnership with Nintendo. Originally, Nintendo requested for Sony to develop an add-on for its console that would play Compact Discs. In 1991 Sony announced the add-on, as well as a dedicated console known as the "Play Station". However, a disagreement over software licensing for the console caused the partnership to fall through. Sony then continued the project independently.

Launched in 1994, the first PlayStation gained 61% of global console sales and broke Nintendo's long-standing lead in the market.[58] Sony followed up with the PlayStation 2 in 2000, which was even more successful. The console has become the most successful of all time, selling over 150 million units as of 2011[update]. Sony released the PlayStation 3, a high-definition console, in 2006. It was the first console to use the Blu-ray format, and was considerably more expensive than competitors Xbox 360 and Wii due to a Cell processor. [28] Early on, poor sales performance resulted in significant losses for the company, pushing it to sell the console at a loss.[59] The PlayStation 3 sold generally more poorly than its competitors in the early years of its release but managed to overtake the Xbox 360 in global sales later on.[60] It later introduced the PlayStation Move, an accessory that allows players to control video games using motion gestures.

Sony extended the brand to the portable games market in 2005 with the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The console has sold reasonably, but has taken a second place to a rival handheld, the Nintendo DS. Sony developed the Universal Media Disc (UMD) optical disc medium for use on the PlayStation Portable. Early on, the format was used for movies, but it has since lost major studio support. Sony released a disc-less version of its PlayStation Portable, the PSP Go. The company went on to release its second portable video game system, PlayStation Vita, in 2011 and 2012. Sony launched its fourth console, the PlayStation 4, on 15 November 2013, which as of 3 January 2016 has sold 35.9 million units.[61]

On 18 March 2014, at GDC, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide StudiosShuhei Yoshida announced their new virtual reality technology dubbed Project Morpheus, and later named PlayStation VR, for PlayStation 4. The headset brought VR gaming and non-gaming software to the company's console. According to a report released by Houston-based patent consulting firm LexInnova in May 2015, Sony is leading the virtual reality patent race. According to the firm’s analysis of nearly 12,000 patents or patent applications, Sony has 366 virtual reality patents or patent applications.[62] PlayStation VR was released worldwide on 13 October 2016.[63]

Electric vehicles and batteries[edit]

See also: Electric vehicle

In 2014, Sony participated within NRG EnergyeVgoReady for Electric Vehicle (REV) program, for EV charging parking lots.[64]

Sony is in the business of electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries.[65][66][67]

IT giants such as Google (driverless car) and Apple (iCar/Project Titan) are working on electric vehicles and self driving cars, competing with Tesla; Sony is entering into this field by investing $842,000 in the ZMP company.[68][69]

On 28 July 2016, Sony announced that the company will sell its battery business to Murata Manufacturing.[70]


Main article: Sony Entertainment

Sony Entertainment has three divisions: Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, and Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

Sony Pictures Entertainment[edit]

Main article: Sony Pictures

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. (SPE) is the television and film production/distribution unit of Sony. With 12.5% box office market share in 2011, the company was ranked third among movie studios.[71] Its group sales in 2010 were $7.2 billion USD.[9][72] The company has produced many notable movie franchises, including Spider-Man, The Karate Kid and Men in Black. It has also produced the popular television game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.

Sony entered the television and film production market when it acquired Columbia Pictures Entertainment in 1989 for $3.4 billion. Columbia lives on in the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, a division of SPE which in turn owns Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures among other film production and distribution companies such as Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Classics, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. SPE's television division is known as Sony Pictures Television.

For the first several years of its existence, Sony Pictures Entertainment performed poorly, leading many to suspect the company would sell off the division.[73] Sony Pictures Entertainment encountered controversy in the early 2000s. In July 2000, a marketing executive working for Sony Corporation created a fictitious film critic, David Manning, who gave consistently good reviews for releases from Sony subsidiary Columbia Pictures that generally received poor reviews amongst real critics.[74] Sony later pulled the ads, suspended Manning's creator and his supervisor and paid fines to the state of Connecticut[75] and to fans who saw the reviewed films in the US.[76] In 2006 Sony started using ARccOS Protection on some of their film DVDs, but later issued a recall.[77]

Sony Music Entertainment[edit]

Main article: Sony Music

Sony Music Entertainment (also known as SME or Sony Music) is the second-largest global recorded music company of the "big three" record companies and is controlled by Sony Corporation of America, the United States subsidiary of Japan's Sony. The company owns full or partial rights to the catalogues of Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Usher, Eminem, Akon and others.

In one of its largest-ever acquisitions, Sony purchased CBS Record Group in 1988 for US$2 billion.[78] In the process, Sony gained the rights to the catalogue of Michael Jackson, considered by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the most successful entertainer of all time. The acquisition of CBS Records provided the foundation for the formation of Sony Music Entertainment, which Sony established in 1991.

In 2004, Sony entered into a joint venture with Bertelsmann AG, merging Sony Music Entertainment with Bertelsmann Music Group to create Sony BMG. In 2005, Sony BMG faced a copy protection scandal, because its music CDs had installed malware on users' computers that was posing a security risk to affected customers.[79] In 2007, the company acquired Famous Music for US$370 million, gaining the rights to the catalogues of Eminem and Akon, among others.

Sony bought out Bertelsmann's share in the company and formed a new Sony Music Entertainment in 2008. Since then, the company has undergone management changes. In January 1988, Sony acquired CBS Records and the 50% of CBS/Sony Group. In March 1988, four wholly owned subsidiaries were folded into CBS/Sony Group and the company was renamed as Sony Music Entertainment Japan

Sony/ATV Music Publishing[edit]

Main article: Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Besides its record label, Sony operates other music businesses. In 1995, Sony purchased a 50% stake in ATV Music Publishing, forming Sony/ATV Music Publishing. At the time, the publishing company was the second largest of its kind in the world. The company owns much of the publishing rights to the catalog of The Beatles. Sony purchased digital music recognition company Gracenote for $260 million USD in 2008.[80] Sony/ATV then acquired EMI Music Publishing in 2012 that was led by its consortium by making them the world's largest music publishing company.[81] As of 2016, Sony owns all of Sony/ATV.[82]


Financial services[edit]

Sony Financial Holdings is a holding company for Sony's financial services business. It owns and oversees the operation of Sony Life (in Japan and the Philippines), Sony Assurance, Sony Bank and Sony Bank Securities. The company is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Sony Financial accounts for half of Sony's global earnings.[83] The unit proved the most profitable of Sony's businesses in fiscal year 2006, earning $1.7 billion in profit.[27] Sony Financial's low fees have aided the unit's popularity while threatening Sony's premium brand name.[27]

Mobile payments[edit]

Sony wants to contend with Apple and Samsung on mobile payments in Asia. Sony plans to use its contact-less payment technology to make ground in the public transportation industry across Asia. The system, known as FeliCa, relies on two forms of technologies to make it viable, either chips embedded in smartphones or plastic cards with chips embedded in them. Sony plans to implement this technology in train systems in Indonesia as early as Spring 2016.[84]

Corporate information[edit]


Sony is a kabushiki gaisha registered to the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Japan and the New York Stock Exchange for overseas trading. As of 30 September 2017, there are 484,812 shareholders and 1,264,649,260 shares issued.[85] Most of these shares are held by foreign institutions and investors.

A Sony Action-camera with underwater housing
The PlayStation 2 is the best-selling video game console of all time.

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