Headline January 08, 2017/ ''' *SONY -SKY- STARS* '''

''' *SONY -SKY- STARS* '''

EVERYONE OWNS  *A SONY*  SOMETHING. Name your pleasure and Sony's got the goods: 

Movies, music video games even robotic companionship. Some even say Sony's got the slickest set of PCs  -see the latest Vaio.

In the late 1990s, the king of all this cool stuff from Sony was Nobuyuki Idei,  CO-CEO of the  $56 billion company. The very same year, Idei announced a reorganization of the company to focus home networking-

Not connecting that PC and printer in the den, but linking all those Sony gadgets, entertainment systems and appliances elsewhere in the house.

The heart of Idei's   *smart-home*   vision: the next version of  Sony's hugely popular  PlayStation game console.  Idei used to boast that the new box would do more than knock your eyes out with graphic-rich games:
*It would become the nerve center of the networked living room*.

His best line was : '' I am certain that PlayStation has already surpassed the stage of a mere game machine.''

So  when the watchers of Sony's  forward tilt, discovered its evolving relationship with Microsoft they figured where entertainment and info tech would merge.

Both companies were partners in WebTV and co-developed a  piracy-proof digital music format called  MS Audio. But some knew that they could also end up as rivals.
*The chip that powered PlayStation 2  could be the sword that would slay the Wintel dragon*     

READING AND LEARNING  ABOUT SONY is at the very least a  *jolting experience*. This new telling of Sony's success story is a timely reminder of Akio Morita's pure  *marketing genius*.

Akio Morita, redefined the way  Westerners view Japanese products. And their admiration for the brand has grown and grown ever since.

Yet the founders' occasional impetuousness nearly derailed Sony more than once.

Ibuka's pursuit of the perfect color television almost bankrupted the company before a smart engineer at the very last minute discovered the basis for the Trinitron technology.

Sony would have saved millions in the 1970s if the company hadn't persisted with the Betamax videotape format when the rest of the world preferred the dominant VHS.

And then their is the oft-told tale of the disastrous $5 billion acquisition of Columbia Pictures Entertainment in 1989.

Nathan freshens this with  the revealing nugget that Sony's  risk-averse top executives had decided against buying the Hollywood studio  -only to reverse themselves the next morning-

After Morita said  ''It's really too bad. I've always dreamed of owning a Hollywood film studio.

*The  Private Life* offers rich personal detail while debunking various myths about Sony. 

For instance, Morita was not merely an internationalist, but a Japanese who struggled with the conflicts between his culture roots and the demand of tough, often unfamiliar business world.

''Chairman Akio'' was also a mercurial leader and an insensitive father. Indeed for Morita, Ibuka and other cohorts, Sony was the only family that mattered.

Nathan's book is the family history   -from Ibuka's tears of joy when a products worked to the poignant description of the two founders, 

Ibuka recovering from a heart attack and Morita, a stroke, being wheeled in and out of each other's hospital rooms, where they sat together, hands clasped in silence.

[Ibuka died in 1997].

One reason the book includes so much telling detail is that Nathan, a professor of Japanese culture at the  University of California, Santa Barbara, was granted extraordinary access to Sony executives.

Norio Ohga,  the musician, jet pilot and car lover who guided Sony through most of the tumultuous last decade, admits that  Nobuyuki Idei, the current CEO in 1999, was an unlikely successor.

On the other hand,  Idei contends that Morita and Ohga were not hard-nosed enough to run a company in the digital age.

Now Sony executives need to be guided by shareholders and market imperatives, an object still so elusive in Japan that Idei labels his quest to change the company  ''mission impossible''. 

If there's a problem with this book, it is that the drama all but stops right there, just when it ought to come alive again.

Aside from a juicy account of the firing of Sony America President Mickey Schulhof, Nathan doesn't offer the kind of rich reporting on the early Idei years that we got on the founders.

The  new Sony  is clearly work in progress, but tomorrow's challenges, such as Sony's  ''networked''   strategy, are not presented in context for instance [who are the company's competitors in the global wired world?].

The development of critical new products,  like the Playstation, is given short shrift.

But ultimately, this is not a business book.

It is a well textured cultural history that explains much about why Sony -and Japan  -face unimaginable change. 

As Idei tells Nathan. ''The Sony we know today may have to disappear.''   

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!   -the World Students Society and.... Twitter-!E-WOW!   -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Verbatim '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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