Competition of Emerging Technologies: Case Study of Sony

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Abstract

Historically Sony has been a trailblazer when it comes to technological innovation. From their humble beginnings to the giant they are now, this growth has been the direct result of their willingness to embrace the opinions and feedback of their customers. This willingness to listen has led Sony to be able to innovate and stay ahead of the fierce competition they face from multiple competitors in the film, music, and gaming industries just to name a few.

Introduction

Technology hasn’t been around for too long and yet that hasn’t stopped it from rapidly advancing. With artificial intelligence and virtual reality, our world is completely different than it was 50 years ago. Sony Corporation is one of the companies who has played a big role in advancing current technology and keeping up to date with the latest innovative practices. Sony Corporation is composed of a few different segments including the following: 1) games and network services 2) music, pictures, home entertainment and sound 3) imaging products and services and 4) mobile communications to name a few (Eassa, 2019). Within the games and network services, Sony has brought us popular gaming machinery such as the Playstation, Playstation 2, Playstation 3 and Playstation 4. Within the music, pictures, home entertainment, and sound division we see subsidiaries such as Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment which have been responsible for many multimedia films and products. While Sony has undeniably had a ton of commercial success with each of these divisions, that is not to say that they have not faced their fair share of competition as well for prospective consumers. There is a lot of competition that Sony must go against in order to continue having a leading role in the world with respect to technology. For instance, in the electronics department, Sony has the PlayStation 4, while Microsoft has the Xbox One. These are two consoles which have been fighting back and forth since the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Additionally, Sony faces competition from production studios like Universal and Disney when it comes to their cinematography. From a mobile phone perspective, they also face extensive competition from companies such as Google and Apple. Given these close competitors in many of their divisions, the onus is on Sony to continue to innovate and integrate newer and better technology while also aggressively creating never before seen technology if they hope to stay relevant among consumers and stay ahead of their ever-persistent competitors (Huseyin, 2019).

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Background

Early Beginnings of Sony

Originally named “Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation,” Sony started as a company who created heat seeking missiles for the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II (Hall, 2019). It was founded by Ibuka Masaru and Morita Akio. Sony was not initially the technology giant it is today. Some of the first products that Sony created were an electric rice cooker and a tape recorder both of which sold poorly and resulted in a significant loss in revenue due to the development of (Hall, 2019). While being in Japan, Sony wasn’t doing a good job bringing in money. To grow, Sony had to be willing to gradually expand by making deals with other countries and corporations (Kennan, 2017 & Sony, 2019). “In 1952 Ibuka visited the United States and made the initial contacts for licensing the transistor from Bell Laboratories” (Hall, 2019, para. 2). This initial contract was the first of many. This led to a deal between Western Electric and Morita (Hall, 2019). Shortly after this deal transistor radios were in production and they were extremely successful (Hall, 2019).

The Walkman to Now

After the success of the transistor radio, the Sony Walkman was introduced in 1979 despite initial pushback from company engineers (Hall, 2019). While engineers had initial concerns about the concept behind the Sony Walkman, Morita urged developers to create the product even going as far as to offer to resign should the product not be successful (Hall, 2019). This shows that Morita was confident in the products that were in development and he was willing to take the risk of their business by making the Walkman which was a great financial and commercial success for Sony. This also showed Sony’s commitment to their ideals of innovation and persistence for looking to their consumers for guidance on how to improve and modify the products and services they offer. Additionally, their business model ensures that Sony doesn’t depend on any one area to make a profit. allows them creative flexibility (Eassa, 2019). This commitment to the customer, aided by a strong business model, continues today with Sony’s willingness to expand on successful product lines and discontinue those that are not (Kennan, 2017).

Discussion

Early Beginnings of Sony

From its earliest beginnings, Sony has strived to be a leading innovator in relatively new world of technological advancement. However, in order to do this, it has required that Sony be open to listening to the needs of their prospective consumers and adapt their product line to fit that feedback. In this pursuit, Sony has excelled. As a result, Sony has changed quite a bit since they created an electric rice cooker, transistor radio and the Walkman in their effort to adapt and grow. This is especially true with their success creating the Sony Walkman. Due to the United States fitness craze in the 1980’s, the Walkman was a huge hit and millions of copies were sold (Santo, 2019). This enhanced the attitude towards working out because people were able to listen to their favorite music while doing so.

Sony in Film

The Interview. Since Sony Pictures has been founded, they have created a lot of movies including Men in Black, Rambo, Spiderman and Ghost Busters. Something that these movies have in common is that they were all played on the big screen. The movie The Interview, starring Seth Rogan and James Franco, was also produced by Sony Pictures. In this movie Franco and Rogan are assigned by the United States government to assassinate Kim Jung Un after they interview him on their show. Due to controversy, the video was not set to show in theaters and was released on streaming services (Kokas, Tryon, Gusterson & Braun, 2016). Sony found that consumers enjoy the theater experience and without showing movies in theaters they become unsuccessful (Kokas, Tryon, Gusterson & Braun, 2016). Sony was testing their audience reaction to releasing movies via video on demand rather than in theaters. As a result, Sony realized that their customers were still interested in the movie-going experience they receive when going to theaters to watch movies compared to on demand streaming (Kokas, Tryon, Gusterson & Braun, 2016).

Spider-Man. Spider-Man is a huge character in Marvel Comics. Since Sony had purchased the rights of Spider-Man in 1998, they are the only company who can release a movie about him or with him in it (Graser & Lang, 2015). As long as they release a movie at least every five years they are allowed to keep their rights. Sony did a great job at first, releasing three movies in the early 2000’s featuring Tobey Mcguire as Spider-Man. But after the release of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014 starring Andrew Garfield, Sony realized that they weren’t making a lot of money on the franchise (Russo, 2019). Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has most of the Marvel characters involved in their movies, Marvel felt that Spider-Man had to be in the same universe (Hughes, 2019). The MCU attempted to buy the rights for Spider-Man in 2015 but Sony would only lend the hero for five movies in which all of the profits would go into their own pockets (Russo, 2019). The only money that the MCU can receive is from the merchandise that is associated with Spider-Man. After the five movie deal ended between the MCU and Sony, Sony wanted to take Spider-Man back and keep him for themselves (Russo, 2019). Due to the amount of fans who were angry about Sony’s decision, Sony has decided to keep Tom Holland, the current Spider-Man, in the MCU and for now will be casted into a third solo film following Spider-Man Homecoming, and Spider-Man Far From Home (Graser & Lang, 2015 & Hughes, 2019).

Sony in the Music Industry

Early Beginnings. In addition to the success of Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony is also very active within the music industry. Starting as a partnership with CBS in 1968, Sony Music has been its own branch of Sony since 1988 (Kennan, 2017). Consistent with their business model that prioritizes the public, Sony has joined the Artist Discovery Network that looks to identify talent and provide them with the investment and sponsorship opportunities they may need as new and budding musical artist (Shore Fire Media, 2019). Additionally, recent efforts by Sony Music have resulted in new record labels that will focus on family entertainment reaching a genre that Sony thinks has potential to grow (Silva, 2019). These efforts by Sony reveal that even when it comes to music production, Sony is willing to go in whatever direction their customers want.

The Rise of Playstation. With Nintendo being one of the largest video game companies around, Sony wasn’t far behind. In 1994, Sony released the Playstation. This console was revolutionary because it was one of the first to use a disc. Fast forward to now with the Playstation 4 which has had a lot of success since the release in 2015. The Playstation 4 can also support Virtual Reality (VR) games with the purchase of a VR headset and controllers. This is important because as VR becomes more popular, Xbox, owned by Microsoft, will start to fall behind Playstation due to their lack of capability to run VR games. Video games for the Playstation 4 have been constantly released every year since it has been released keeping them in competition with Xbox. Due to the major success in the Playstation 4, Sony has announced that they will be releasing the Playstation 5 in the fall of 2020. As of now, it is said that the Playstation 5 will be backwards compatible, meaning it will be able to play games made for the previous generation. This would be a great addition the the Playstation 5 because Xbox already has a backwards compatibility feature.

Conclusion

With the competition of emerging technologies, Sony has been able to stay towards the top. Sony has been able to compete with other movie studios including Disney Pictures. With a strong start, Sony was able to keep their rights to Spider-Man, but it came down to a contract with the MCU to keep the franchise alive. Sony does a great job listening to their consumers and staying ahead of the never-ending game in technology and entertainment. Because of their great success in selling the Playstation 4, Sony is confident that they will be successful in selling the Playstation 5.

Reflection

Looking at Sony Corporation as a whole, I believe that this would be a great company to work for because they are continuously looking to stay towards the top in innovation. To do this, they have created a culture and business model that truly seeks to understand and value the needs of consumers. As a result, Sony has been able to not only improve upon their previous work but also create and innovate new and better technologies.

References

  1. Eassa, A. (2019). Here's how Sony makes its money. Retrieved from https://www.fool.com/investing/2019/04/23/heres-how-sony-makes-its-money.aspx.
  2. Graser, M., & Lang, B. (2015). Spider-Man: How Sony, marvel will benefit from unique deal (exclusive). Retrieved from https://variety.com/2015/film/news/details-spider-man-appear-in-sony-and-marvel-movies-1201429039/.
  3. Hall, M. (2019). Sony. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Sony.
  4. Hughes, M. (2019). Spider-Man back in marvel cinematic universe after sony, marvel reach new deal. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2019/09/27/spider-man-back-in-marvel-cinematic-universe-after-sony-marvel-reach-new-deal/#3ce13bff1a8f.
  5. Huseyin, K. (2019). What is so good about Sony corporation? Retrieved from https://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/140054/technology/what_is_so_good_about_sony_corporation.html.
  6. Kennan, M. (2017). Sony corporation history & background. Retrieved from https://bizfluent.com/about-5176244-sony-corporation-history-background.html.
  7. Russo, D. (2019). Sony has big plans for Spider-Man cinematic universe, but a key hero is unavailable: Spidey. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/24/sonys-plan-for-spider-man-cinematic-universe-lacks-a-hero-spidey.html.
  8. Kokas, A., Tryon, C., Gusterson, H., & Braun, J. (2016). 'Freedom edition': Considering sony pictures and the interview. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 60(4), 714-728. doi:http://dx.doi.org.cmich.idm.oclc.org/10.1080/08838151.2016.1234479
  9. Santo, B. (2019). The sony walkman: The gadget that let people create a mobile personal soundtrack. IEEE Spectrum, 56(1), 16. doi:http://dx.doi.org.cmich.idm.oclc.org/10.1109/MSPEC.2019.8594781
  10. Shore Fire Media. (2019). Sony music joins artist growth's artist discovery network. Retrieved from https://shorefire.com/releases/entry/sony-music-joins-artist-growths-artist-discovery-network.
  11. Silva, M. (2019). Sony music thinks the ‘family entertainment’ market is untapped, launches a new label to address it. Retrieved from https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2019/10/29/sony-music-family-entertainment/
  12. Sony. (2019). Corporate history. Retrieved from https://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/CorporateInfo/History/history.html.
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Competition of Emerging Technologies: Case Study of Sony. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/competition-of-emerging-technologies-case-study-of-sony/
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