What’s Left Of Sony And How Simplicity Wins

How Steve Jobs ‘out-Japanned’ Japan

Sony Then:

By way of example, Deutschman tells the story of how Sony entered the color TV marketplace, noting that in the Sixties, when color TV was going from 3% to 25% of the market, Sony was one of the few electronics companies that didn’t sell a color model. “People were telling Ibuka, ‘You have to come in to this market, everyone will take your market share,'” says Deutschman. “And Ibuka refused, saying, ‘No, we will only do great products. We will only do high quality goods. We will only do breakthrough technology.'”

As a result, the company found itself in a precarious financial situation, losing out to its primary rivals — until it came upon the aperture-grille technology that Sony unveiled in 1966 as the core of the Trinitron TV. A full 25% brighter than its rivals, Trinitron became the best-selling color TV for the next quarter century.

“At the time, Sony was committed to not releasing a crappy product just because the market was there; they waited until they had a truly revolutionary innovation, combined it with great design and then profited from it for long, long time,” says Deutschman. “For decades, Sony was a perfect place for engineers to fully use their creativity, because it was focused on bringing real meaning and benefit to society by making great products. Sadly, in the last couple of decades, Sony has lost its way.”

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

And what’s left of Sony Now, in the sweaty paws of that bloated prat, Howard Stringer:

No better example of this exists than the company’s go-for-broke focus on 3-D television. Last year’s CES saw the industry unleash a flood of 3-D TVs, only to encounter ho-hum reactions from consumers and, subsequently, mediocre sales — research giant NPD estimates that just 2 percent of all televisions sold in North America were 3-D capable. Rather than consider whether introducing a nonessential technology with minimal available content was a bad idea, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer was quoted by USA Today as saying, “No — you have to launch [it]. It’s there. Competitive pressures — you read in the papers, so-and-so is the first to release 3-D TV. You don’t want to be the last.”

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

You can bet, given the cowardly way Stringer has operated — and continues to — that if there hadn’t been a Sony Reader, he would have called for one after seeing the success of the Kindle. (At least then every model would have had wireless built-in — but then also cost $499!)

Also in the above article:

Other companies fail to do things because they’ve overlooked potential openings or are cutting corners to save money; under Jobs, however, every spurned opportunity is a conscious, measured statement. It’s why the pundits who give Apple products poor reviews for not including industry-standard components — for instance, the iMac’s lack of a floppy drive — just aren’t getting it: Apple products are as defined by what they’re missing as much as by what they contain.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Which ties into: Why Dropbox Succeeded and Syncplicity Didn’t

In the end, it really came down to one incredibly genius idea: Dropbox lim­ited its feature set on purpose. It had one folder and that folder always synced without any issues – it was magic. Syncplicity could sync every folder on your computer until you hit our quota. (Unfortunately, that fea­ture was used to synchronize C:\Windows\ for dozens of users – doh!) Our company had too many features and this created confusion amongst our customer base. This in turn led to enough customer support issues that we couldn’t innovate on the product, we were too busy fixing things.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

I’ve started a Sekrit Project of my own just today after thinking lightly about it for a few days. I will have to fight for that simplicity aspect — against others as well as myself. Others won’t likely agree with the “It’s supposed to do this only” aspect — and I have to prevent myself from indulging in “Hm, maybe I should also add X to it.”

Do one thing — and do it damned well. That is the “secret” of success.

1 Comment

Filed under Apple: The Company, Minimalism, Reference

One response to “What’s Left Of Sony And How Simplicity Wins

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention What’s Left Of Sony And How Simplicity Wins « Mike Cane's xBlog -- Topsy.com

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