That Jobs admired Sony’s design and manufacturing ethic is well known. Former Apple CEO John Sculley said Jobs loved Sony’s products, factories, and everything about the Japanese giant. Sony’s head Akio Morita gave Jobs one of the first Sony Walkmans, a predecessor to the iconic iPod.
Sony, Admired By Apple
My, how the world has changed in the 21st century; for both Apple and Sony. The Sony of today is exactly the kind of company that Steve Jobs and Tim Cook would not want Apple to be like.
What happened to Sony is the opposite of what happened at Apple. Apple obsessively focuses on every product detail. Sony’s focus these days appears to be deciding which business segment to cut.
While Apple basks in the glory of the world’s highest stock valuation and sits on tens of billions in profits, Sony has lost money in six of the last seven years, and has plans to exit the smartphone and television industries it pioneered.
Sony sold off its audio and personal computer divisions, spun off the video and online games division, and the newest CEO plans to focus on products that bring in profits vs. those that straddle the company with losses.
What happened to Sony that Apple’s executives should pay attention to? Focus. Or, rather, lack of focus. Sony’s past successes emboldened the company to venture into a variety of business segments, extending, then tarnishing the Sony brand, which once stood for quality, value, and premium prices (and profits), a brand that has fallen on hard times as competitors carved out new markets in smartphones, tablets, and other popular Sony-like devices.
Sony retaliated by adopting a Samsung ‘throw-everything-against-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks‘ attitude. That hasn’t worked out well for Samsung, either, as the tightly focused Apple grabbed a tighter rein on the industry’s profits.
Apple’s successes in recent years are different than those that drove Sony. Apple leverages one product line into another, so that each works better together than individually, a strategy not in evidence among Apple’s many competitors, and one which has brought the company a profitable version of diversification, despite most revenue and profits coming from the iPhone.
It’s easy to see why Apple would design, manufacture, and sell an integrated smartwatch which works with the iPhone and Apple’s ecosystem. But what about that Apple car?