Is Sony a rotten apple made by Japan?



Is Sony a strong development company? From the perspective of the profit statement, the answer is yes, singing and declining Japanese companies are not easy to achieve.

Murakami Shanhong, one of the most influential news agencies in Japan, once wrote an article “Sony Closing this is a rumor” at the end of 2018. At that time, Sony had achieved a net profit of RMB 30.5 billion in fiscal 2017, and it had already risen from the low valley in 2015. The author means reminding Chinese readers: “In the business field, if you believe in lies and outdated information, it may cause serious losses.” Until now, the author’s judgment is not wrong. Sony’s profit in 2020 reached an amazing 70 billion yuan. A very profitable company is rushing up all the way.

The latest annual report shows that Sony’s annual revenue in 2020 is 520 billion yuan. In addition to online games (including PS gaming machines), music and images (such as Colombia Film Company), its electronic products related to manufacturing (such as TV, digital cameras) and image sensors account for one -third of the overall sales.

Figure 1 Sony income ratio (Source: Sony 2021 financial report)


From the point of view, the most profitable department is the game department. Sony games led by PS5 video game console are irregular. In 2020, the game revenue was $ 25 billion, which was almost the sum of Tencent ($ 13.9 billion) and Nintendo (12.1 billion). PS5’s best -selling is derived from the low -cost or even loss -making strategy of hardware, and cooperates with the subscription method of online games. This revolutionary game method allowed Sony’s game console to avoid the subversion of hardware games on the Internet game, but also avoided professional computer players, thus gaining huge profits. But in a sense, it is also away from the tradition of “heavy hardware” in Japan.

The other most profitable department comes from financial services. It has always been the assets hosted by Son Tian Zhaofu, the founder of Sony.

The most innovative manufacturing departments, including EP & S of electronic products and I & SS of image sensors, account for 32%of sales revenue, while profit is 27%. The income of both departments is declining. The location of the manufacturing industry is becoming more and more positioned.

Figure 2 Sony business profit proportion (Source: Sony 2021 financial report)

Sony, more like an entertainment and game company.

Made mythology

For more than 70 years, Sony has established myths in the manufacturing industry and has been a model for manufacturing innovation. The industry generally believes that Sony is an innovator and leader; Panasonic is a market follower.

Sony was originally from a component. The first is to make a converter. This converter can be listened from upgrading the radio from the medium wave frequency to medium short waves. Based on this, Sony’s predecessor was established. When discussing what kind of products should be established, the radio was the easiest to think of, because the radio supply in Japan at that time. However, Mr. Jing Shenda, one of the founders, refused to adopt the proposal to oppose the manufacture of simple radio.

Because the ideal vision of the two founders Jing Shen and Sheng Tian Zhaofu is: to play a new product that led the trend of the times. If you make traditional radios, you must buy parts of other companies, which will not make unique products. Although the manufacturing parts are not exciting at all, this is a real choice. Sony does not make “flowers” like radios because there is no enough component -level “root” technology. At that time, the simple tunnel technology was not enough to support Sony to create a different radio.

This reflects the product selection brought by the layered characteristics of the technology. Parts can be regarded as a fulcrum technology, while terminal products are applied technology. The two are the relationship between the center of the center and the circumstances. The application technology is rotating around the fulcrum technology, just like the earth surrounds the sun. However, if the axis is not strong enough, do not make round -point applications. Although the latter’s display will be very high, the sector formed will be very large. However, don’t make flowers without roots. This is the technical logic that Sony insists on.

Figure 3 Technology’s centripetal force

Sony’s terminal product starts with a recorder. Due to the accumulation of the technical accumulation of the signal regulator and the mixing device, it began to turn these technologies to the recorder. After the steel wire recording machine was abandoned, Sony developed a tape recorder. The recorder and tape at the time were usually separated. For example, AMPEX Ampers in the United States became a leader in the field of tape machines, while tapes were produced by 3M in the United States. Sony Company processed meadily to solve the problem of baseband materials. Finally, the first batch of tape recorders was completed in 1950. Although the performance is good, it is big and bulky, weighing 35 kg. Although the product is good, there is no consumer market at the time.

In order to promote this large recorder, Hirota and Orakita regained division of labor, and the former went to the road of focusing on marketing. The super heavy recorder was first promoted to the court, because a large number of live records need to be completed, and the talented talents are very scarce. The court regards the recorder as a good tool. Followed by schools, the school needs to learn English repeatedly with a recorder.

Promoting product polishing in the edge market is a common path for technology to mature. Before finding a large -scale consumer product, find a corporate user and get valuable breathing opportunities. The company took the lead in using a recorder to survive Sony’s recorder business.

Then, the crystallization era came. The Western Electric Corporation of the United States with crystal technology does not know what consumer products it can do. Although Sony felt its huge potential, it was impossible to create useful products immediately if he obtained patent authorization.

At this time, the market intuition of the founder Sagoda began to play a role. The Japanese have always been a favorite of exquisite and small objects. Folding and scrolls are a living habit. Morida keenly captured the nature of the Japanese. In 1953, the “portable” policy was established to create a radio that is easy to carry in pockets.

At this moment, Sony established a portable gene. Its technology comes around this gene. In other words, its root technology lies in portable and compact. Two years later, such genes grew rich fruits. In this year, Sony’s name was officially confirmed, and the first one to wear this brand was the smallest radio in the world. This small transistor radio was invincible and defeated the earliest transistor radio of Texas instruments in the United States.

Later, Sony’s growth stories were all carried forward. After the portable radios, the small solid -state transistor TV first listened to WALKMAN, which was popular in 1979, followed by Watchman’s portable plane small TV, and then listened to the later DISCMAN CD. Sony developed a handheld camera and a small inclusion machine, and also developed the first portable 3.5 -inch computer floppy disk.

The home video recorder launched by Sony also comes from the original huge video device from the original TV station. The famous Betamax video tape is the product of this miniaturized thought. After the thrilling technical route war with the VHS format of Japan JVC, it defeated, although the technical route failed (for example, it can only be stored for 1 hour, and the opponent can store it for more than 2 hours; the opponent follows the alliance ecological route Wait), but it still greatly inspires people’s imagination of the small video recorder market.


When competing for the US television market, the United States is taking a large -scale route. At that time, there were three independent electronic guns at the back of the imaging tube. Sony is committed to combining three shots to pursue small and efficient. This is the “Trelong” portrait that was widely passed down. This unique color TV imaging system has achieved the “easy movement” and “high screen brightness” of Sony TV, thus establishing its long -term hegemony position in the TV field. The miniaturization technology has always been Sony’s deep -fixed genetic ability.

The post -70s and post -80s people are the easiest to feel the experience and excitement created by Sony. At that time, Sony was like God. In 1995, Walkman and subsequent Discetman were the current product idols. In the field of electronic consumer goods, Sony has created countless product myths. Its derivatives have also become a legend. Walkman’s light small headphones have set up 50 million pairs of sales performance in 1986. This is the comprehensive victory of Sony’s “miniaturization”.

The colorful products can be found everywhere. This is the inherent technical logic of a diversified operation of an enterprise. With the center of mind, many landing applications can be found in application technology. It is like a hour hand full of the entire dial, from 12, to 6 o’clock, to 11 o’clock. Under the dominance of Yuanxin technology, the application scenario can be used along the circumference, occupying all sectors. Sony has filled the entire clock.

Genetic destruction

However, the disagreement of noise begins to appear. The end of the Sony pointer comes from another completely different line, not a recorder, not a video recorder, or a TV.

In October 2001, in the Auditorium of Apple Headquarters, Jobs officially announced the opening of the new generation of digital music world with the size of a poker box, “Put 1000 songs into your pocket!”. This sounds like a CD machine that stores dozens of songs from a young age to a kindergarten child at once. This is a new format music. The MP3 format studied by Fraunhof in Germany was re -developed by Jobs. This card’s ultra -thin and large capacity machine did not attract Sony’s attention.

Figure 4 Change of Sony Walkman

The online version of Walkman launched the previous year made Sony confidently believe that it had catered to the rise of the Internet at that time. However, Sony did not realize that the foundation of its survival was being bombed by a drilling ground from the top of the head. Waiting for awakening, Sony also launched the flagship version of MP3 format products in 2004. The portability is just a small threshold, and in the field of mass music, streaming media is the king.

The disintegration of Walkman’s star product looks just like Sony’s product fell to the embrace of the old era. However, it loosened Sony’s axis technology and shook the foundation of the Sony Overlord Empire. This is a profound metaphor. Sony mobile phones, which were subsequently called in the 2G and 3G eras, also presented the trend in the 4G and smart phones. In the 5G era, it was basically disappeared. Although there are Sony Dafa (Sony’s praise to Sony) from time to time, it is cheered from consumers, but this is a periodic repetition of the old situation. In less than two decades, Sony almost completely surrendered the former dominance of television, mobile phones, headphones and other electronic consumer goods fields, and the entire industry of digital cameras was shrinking.

The Sony image sensor is still in the dominant position, and half of the world’s mobile phone image sensors are the world of Sony. But the chasers in South Korea and the United States have been staring at them. Samsung Electronics has been recovering, accounting for 20%. Sony has invested in the construction of 100 billion yen in the past two years to establish a new factory construction. It is expected that the market share will be increased to 60 % in 2025, thereby throwing off Samsung’s annoying fart. However, Samsung has never been willing to show weakness. With the advantages of the entire industrial chain, he only bit the first place. And Korean mobile phones and domestic mobile phones have begun to open the market for Samsung. Coupled with the loss of Huawei, the largest customer (Honor Sale) at the end of last year, these have left Sony, the creation of the pearl, and left an unknown sign.

It can be said that Sony’s manufacturing may have become a former phantom at the peak of Japan.

In 1953, Sony established the technical advantage of portable genes. In 1979, Walkman, a global -sold mini -listener, confirmed that it was in the field of portable fields. Smallization is its round heart technology. However, 22 years later, Sony’s portable mobility advantage was destroyed by the iPod of the music player produced by Apple; then, in the era of smartphones, its genes were completely destroyed. As the former headset hegemon, he also gave Apple Computer. In 2020, the global wireless headset market is about 300 million, while Apple accounts for nearly 40%of the market. It can be said that Apple has accurately copied Sony’s empire’s territory more than thirty years ago, and the territory is much larger.

In the mobile era, miniaturized technical barriers have disappeared. In the second ten years of the 20th century, Sony could not win the terminal products through its core manufacturing capabilities. Sony, which loses the gene advantage, must find new center of heart technology.

Sony’s shadow


In April this year, Sony renamed the name of the company to “Sony Group”, which was to give way to the new business pillar, and shifted from electronic manufacturing companies to entertainment -centric comprehensive enterprises.

Such a strategic transformation is not surprising. As early as 2018, Yoshida Yoshiko served as President Sony, he proposed to strengthen the entertainment business. In fact, under the leadership of Yoshida, Sony’s total acquisition and funding in this field exceeded 30 billion yuan. It’s really a big deal.

There is a cause behind it that the shadow of US shareholders began to emerge.

Sony is only responsible for funny! THIRD POINT, an American Audit Investment Fund, has held a $ 1.5 billion shares of Sony. In recent years, Sony has been calling for Sony to split its semiconductor business, sell Sony Financial shares, and focus on being the world’s leading entertainment companies, Americans’s Americans’s It means that after spin -off, New Sony has become a creative entertainment leader in games, music, pictures and electronic industries.

In fact, radical US shareholders (this is a shadow that is getting darker in the sky in Japan) is expected that Sony will simply become an entertainment company. Comic tasks like “Spider -Man” are used to use music and game consoles to handle it to handle Human entertainment is like Disney, cheerful.


This is not surprising. The global music industry now competes mainly by three major record giants. One of them is Sony, with an income of about 30 billion yuan. Although it lags behind Universal Music UMG (43 billion yuan in 2019), it exceeds Warner Music Group. On the dizzy stage of the music industry, Sony still stars are still brilliant.

This is really a funny history.

During the outbreak of the US -Japan trade war in the 1980s, two iconic companies in Japan, one was Toyota Motor and the other was Sony Electronics. They became the eyes of the US trade delegation. Sony President Sheng Tian Zhaofu’s unreasonable and hard -working back of the Americans was respected by Americans. Now, thirty -five years have passed since the Square Agreement in Japan’s admits in 1985. The tough guy made by Japan really lived as the United States hopes. With the pursuit of South Korea and China in the electronics industry, Sony, which has been squeezed by hardware profits, may not have more choices, and it is becoming more and more difficult to refuse the trap set by the profit.

Without the foundation of hardware portability, Sony did not seize the rise of software closely related to electronics, and missed a great opportunity to transform technology. Perhaps this is a common problem made in Japan. Almost all Japanese electronics giants are easy to follow the software. Sony’s image sensor CMOS is the first in the world, and it can be said that it has the best hardware. For mobile phones to take pictures, one rely on hardware and two algorithms, Sony’s algorithm is like dust. Sony CMOS is developed and designed by the semiconductor department, and the algorithm is responsible for the Alpha -free camera department.

Sony executives have disclosed that the camera department does not want to let the mobile phone take a better experience to affect the sales of the camera. Therefore, many “real kung fu” did not share it with Sony Mobile. If you are not even good at the quality of the best picture, Sony’s mobile phone will naturally fall. This is also a Japanese -style internal roll. Although these departments have merged later, they intend to form a joint force of “a Sony”. But it is easy to say, the department’s gap is the most difficult to meet.

This huge split has been tearing the giant. The cooked rice made of peanut rice and rice grains is each angular existence. The former president of Sony has always advocated “eating a pot of rice” to promote cooperation between different businesses. The current chairman is still doing entertainment, electronic X music, electronic X movies, games X movies, various combinations, and it looks like entertainment is occupying the upper hand.

Come again?

So did Sony’s Walkman disappear? nor. They are now a hobby of enthusiasts, and the price is high. Many years ago, they came from the distant Arctic circle to break the ice. After the hot peak, they now returned to the Arctic Circle. In other words, they returned to the edge area, which is really unpredictable.

Electronic dog AIBO is a physical electronic pet launched by Sony in 1999, but the product will no longer be sold after the seventh year. In 2018, Sony unexpectedly stir -fry the cold rice, allowing this machine dog AIBO to make a comeback, and gave artificial intelligence and human emotions. As a companion robot, this Sony Machine Dog, which is released in the United States, has given full play to Sony’s advantages in sensors and OLED screens. In addition, the feelings established by machine learning algorithms can blink from time to time and can laugh. It was also a sensation at the time. But this product has not continued to become popular. In Illinois, it is banned from selling for privacy issues.

Now it seems that this project seems to be a transitional attempt, because this electronic dog team has been quickly given a greater mission, that is, the two extraordinary areas of drone and pure electric vehicles. At the United States Consumer Electronics Exhibition in the past two years, Sony launched samples of pure electric vehicles and drones, respectively. After all, these two seem to be electronically, and this is the place that Sony is best at.

Sony Electronics released the first professional drone Airpeak S1 in June this year. This is an entry -level model that can be equipped with a anti -anti -camera of the Sony Alpha series, and the flight speed can reach 90 kilometers per hour. The price is also very expensive. The retail price is nearly 10,000 US dollars. I do n’t know where this price is ambitious? After all, this is the role of a challenger.

This is not the first time that Sony has entered the drone track. In 2015, Sony and Tokyo Robotic Company ZMP jointly founded the drone Aerosense, but did not perform in color. The major lists are dominated by China, the United States, and France. The civilian drone dominates DJI, which has dominated the world with the 80%of the suffocating 80%market share, and the cost is less than 50%of Japan, which is cheap and high. Even with the technical support of images and sensors, Sony is difficult to take advantage.

In order to protect local enterprises, the Japanese government also sacrificed the magic weapon of “national security” and plans to ban Chinese drones from entering Japan. The new regulation rules have taken effect in April this year. But the narrow land is difficult to protect Sony’s drone ambitions.

At the beginning of last year, Sony’s car construction also caused a sensation. The car body is manufactured by McGona, the world’s largest automobile foundry. A year and a half have passed. Recently, Sony Vision-S prototype electric vehicle has also begun to be exposed. With 40 sensors, autonomous driving technology is expected to reach L4 level. However, such a concealed car is not dazzling at all in front of the new electric vehicle, and the Sony brand may not be more points to its electric vehicles.

Can Sony’s two major tests in the manufacturing field succeed in pure electric vehicles and drones? This is like a test of a middle -aged soul. Because Sony has never been able to achieve the integration of software and hardware well before. And these two new areas that are responsible for the electronic machine dog team this time continue the integration of electronics and entertainment? Unexpected in the future.

Little note: the meaning of apple spots

The pioneer of hard technology in the past is aging. Apple Corporation in the United States copied Sony’s myths and redefined electronic consumer goods, while manufacturing was the muscles that Apple had never given up. Tesla electric vehicle is also a fan of manufacturing. However, Sony has begun to become weak in the field of manufacturing, just like a somewhat soft apple in the manufacturing industry, it begins to appear spots. However, Sony is also happy on another cheerful track, just like the “pacifier culture” as expected by the United States. This may be a fable for Japanese manufacturing towards decline.


Lin Xueping:

General Manager of Beijing Lianxun Power Consulting Company, the initiator of Nanshan Industrial College