Page 1: Introduction
Throughout the 20th century, the pace of technological advancement has increased dramatically. The digital revolution, now upon us, will see further massive steps forward. This case study looks at the ways in which Sony has been able to stay at the leading edge of the new technologies.
Sony Corporation is the leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its music, pictures and computer entertainment operations make Sony one of the most comprehensive companies in the world. Founded in 1946, Sony has been at the forefront of technological advances and now has 1,041 consolidated companies, 65 affiliated subsidiaries and employs more than 177,000 people throughout the world. Sony recorded world wide sales in excess of $56 billion in the year ending March 1999.
Sony has developed a wide product portfolio which includes goods that have become integral parts of modern lifestyles; the first Japanese magnetic tape and tape recorder in 1950, the transistor radio in 1955, the first all-transistor television set in 1960, the first colour video cassette recorder in 1971. In 1979, Sony launched the Walkman Personal Stereo, which has sold 150 million units world wide. It is the single best selling consumer electronics product ever and has become a way of life for a generation. The compact disc and MiniDisc systems have radically changed the music industry and, more recently, Sony has introduced DVD-video. Sony has not only been a market leader in consumer electronics, but has also become a major player in the worlds of professional broadcasting, telecommunications, PC technology and now the Internet. The positioning of the Sony brand products has been equally important, with the accent on quality and innovation.
Today the world of consumer electronics can effectively be divided into four separate markets:
- the entertainment world of music and games
- the personal computing sector
- communications with cellular telephones
- the wired world of television, video and cable set top boxes.
These four market segments are rapidly merging as digital technology dramatically increases the potential in each area. For example, television has, to date, been largely limited in terms of content and application, but it is essentially just a box of electronics. Many of the latest televisions have the capability of Internet access and many experts believe that the future will see the integration of the personal computer and television. Sony’s aim is to create a network environment within the home from which consumers can access specific video or audio selections whenever they want.