One of my favorite PowerPoint slides shows a picture of an iPod with a simple question under it: “Why is the number one personal music device made by a computer company?” Up to now, the answer was pretty simple — the electronics and intellectual property sides of Sony simply couldn’t get it together. While they were busy arguing about how to use their dominant consumer brand and distribution network to lead the craze, Apple ate their lunch.
Would it have been the digital Walkman craze as opposed to the iPod craze? Who knows, but it would have been interesting and extremely consumer friendly – competition always is.
As everyone who follows this business already knows, Sir Howard Stringer has been made chairman and CEO. The NY Times says that Sony gave “the triumph to the diplomat over the technocrat.” That’s one way to look at it. But, Sir Howard should not be sold short on the technology side. You don’t have to be a technologist, by trade, to take Sony where it need to go. In fact, from a consumer perspective, a techno or engineering-focused Sony would be guaranteed to fade to insignificance in today’s marketplace.
People use technology, not the other way around. And, more importantly, companies that have won the battle for “share of mind” have obtained “share of wallet” by embracing and adapting to the lifestyles of their customers — not the other way around!
There is no way to engineer Sony out of this situation, they must be led out of it. In choosing Stringer, it seems like the board agrees. This is a brilliant move for Sony. And if Sir Howard is the diplomat that many think he is, we’re finally going to get to see the full power of a unified consumer electronics and intellectual property giant at work. It should be quite a show!