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Sony Out to Correct Mistakes?

In a recent interview with the AP, Sony's chief of Video admits the company has missed the boat in many areas and has been limited by its own managements fears. He explains that the company is now out to move on and work on a common agenda.

The AP reports, Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., said he and other Sony employees have been frustrated for years with management's reluctance to introduce products like Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod, mainly because the Tokyo company had music and movie units that were worried about content rights.

Now, Sony's divisions are finally beginning to work together and share a common agenda, Kutaragi said at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo.

Hello Sony (if you're still reading), I think I speak for many when I say, mistake number one to fix... re-introduce the Clie line to the rest of the world.

Thanks to Mike Cane for the tip.

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All too typical of Japanese corps.

RhinoSteve @ 1/21/2005 1:27:58 PM # Q
If you have ever worked in Japan, you know how slow large corps are over there new ideas. It is like a glacer, slow, almost unnoticable and when things come bear, it is totally overwhelming.

I was really surprised to see Sony license the Palm OS as soon as it did. Frankly, the revenue loss to the iPod is giving Sony's marketing and product planning the spanking it needed since the MP3 standard was published.

Think of it, an American electronics company hit the traditional Japanese overseas consumer electronics items since the advent of the Walkman-style personal stereo units.

Them times are a changing.

RE: All too typical of Japanese corps.
PilotMad @ 1/21/2005 2:56:25 PM # Q
Where do i start ...
Non SD card formats, Non MP3 music formats, Beta Max (still smarting on that.Long time grudge) ....

Always going their own way.

I could bear it if they didn't make that amazing stuff that keeps turning my head!!! sigh. Good job i usually cant afford it.



PM.
----------------------
Palm Nirvana or bust!

RE: All too typical of Japanese corps.
Wollombi @ 1/21/2005 5:06:04 PM # Q
If Sonly would be Sony, not tying me to proprietary standards, I would be more inclined to buy their stuff.

Just make me a usable Clie that uses SD instead of Memory Schtick.

_________________
Sean

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

RE: All too typical of Japanese corps.
mikecane @ 1/22/2005 11:48:42 AM # Q
This is not typical of Japanese corporations at all. For Kutaragi to openly state that Sony made errors is the kind of admission that is *seldom* made in public by *any* Japanese company.

One mistake I hope he will correct is the nonsensical Qualia very-high-ticket line Sony has introduced. These aren't the 1980s, with people having money to "dispose" of on ego toys.

Wasn't Memory Stick on the market well before SD? You have to take into account that Sony is still seen as an "outsider" in Japan. It's main "foe" is Matsu****a, which would rather see *its* formats dominate (even if they are "me-too"). They would rather *never* have to license technology from Sony. Not Invented Here rules that company. And that company has the muscle to "convince" its fellow Japanese companies to license *its* tech over Sony's.

RE: All too typical of Japanese corps.
tl47 @ 1/23/2005 1:34:17 AM # Q
Hey, just because it is not from Sony doesn't mean it is not proprietary.

MP3 is every bit as proprietary as Sony's. And so are most (if not all) of the other things mentioned. The problem is, there are many different reasons for countries, companies and cultures to choose to standardize on a particular format (for their own ego, pride or economical benefits). If you want open format in music, fight for adoption of Ogg. iTunes/Quicktime/Windows Media formats are not any less proprietary. I don't see why people aren't complaining, but instead try to force other companies to adopt them (e.g. pockettunes) for the benefit of the likes of M$.

USB for example, is pretty much an Intel thing. Why not complain against it? Just because it comes from a big brother company that can force it down most people's throat shouldn't make it any better. Sony is too used to forcing things down people's throats (they are big in Japan, after all), so they are only doing the same here... too bad, they are not able to have better PR to smooth things over.

RE: All too typical of Japanese corps.
PilotMad @ 1/23/2005 2:26:39 PM # Q
That's probably the point about Sony. They just aren't big enough to force it down everyone's throats (not many can, even Microsoft).

But wait when they are flogging a dead horse, why cant they realign themselves and embrace the more popular format along with everyone else or offer it as an alternative line?
The problem is that they never seem to give up with their own proprietary standards until they've suckered consumers into a fairly serious commitment, later leaving them high and dry as their proprietary standard/products disappear back to some corner of Japan.

Also it seems that they are never likely to be the ones to try and form a consortium or to promote an international standardised one. Instead it seems they much prefer to form a rival consortium under their control.Needless to say sharing technology is absolutely out of the question.

Why support MP3 and WMA formats that can only play on their digital players if they are first converted to their own preferred Attrac format with Sony tools? Why not go all the way and allow those formats to be played without this provision on at least some their players? It points to a grudging concession in my opinion and is typical Sony.

Previously they refused to entertain these rival formats in any way.

So no, i can't necessarily agree that they should not be criticised. I believe they could be far more cooperative with international consortiums. If they embraced more popular open/universally accepted standards(perhaps as alternative product lines). I believe their products would be even more desirable than they already are.


PM.
----------------------
Palm Nirvana or bust!

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Hear Hear!

Strider_mt2k @ 1/21/2005 2:06:42 PM # Q
Couldn't agree more.

The TH55 is one bad mofo. It's a serious shame that development doesn't seem to be moving past the VZ90, which made even further strides toward PDA ultra-ness.

Compare them, or even the NZ series against what P1 is offering, and you'll see just how timid P1 is.



RE: Hear Hear!
mikecane @ 1/22/2005 11:54:55 AM # Q
Geez, Ryan, will we have to type it Matsusheeta (even though it is pronounced Mat-SUSH-ta)?

RE: Hear Hear!
mikecane @ 1/22/2005 11:54:55 AM # Q
(Oops! Post in wrong thread. Sorry!)

Reply to this comment

An example of Ken Kutaragi

mikecane @ 1/21/2005 3:05:47 PM # Q
Kutaragi is no slouch:

==========

The management meeting on June 24, 1992, was critical. The fate of the project would be decided at the meeting, which was chaired by Sony president Ohga. The situatIon seemed hopeless. Nearly everyone present argued that Sony should pull out of the games market. Kutaragi thought the situation had reached a critical juncture and said: "Having listened to what everyone is saying, I can see three options. First, to continue indefinitely with the traditional, Nintendo-compatible 16-bit game machines. Second, to sell game machines in a format proprietary to Sony. Third, to retreat from the market. I believe Sony should choose the second option of selling proprietary-format machines."

"What reasons do you have to justify pursuing that option?" Ohga demanded.

As if on cue, Kutaragi explained, "We've been secretly developing a new format using 3-D computer graphics separately from the Nintendo-compatible machine. Using this technology, we can produce astounding 3-D graphics that the Super Famicom can't hope to compete with."

"What scale of LSI Chip do you need?"

"In terms of gate arrays, about one million."

"What? A million gates?"

"We already have a basic design concept, though it's still at the architecture stage."

Suddenly, Ohga burst out laughing. Kutaragi had shaken Ohga's composure by citing a figure beyond his comprehension. "You're dreaming! A million gates is impossible! The best we could do is twenty to thirty thousand, a hundred thousand at most" Ohga's estimate was based on figures he had heard from Sony's semiconductor division. With Sony's capabilities at the time, the best LSI chip it could hope to build was one with 100,000 gates.

But having done his own research, Kutaragi knew that the figure of one million gates would soon be an achievable target in the industry. "lt's by no means impossible to integrate one million gates on an LSI chip. Unless we can do that, we can't produce three-dimensional computer graphics. Are you just going to sit back and accept what Nintendo did to us?" He appealed intensely and repeatedly to Ohga in this manner, provoking the Sony president. Finally, having reignited Ohga's rage against Nintendo and stirred up his emotions, Kutaragi demanded: "Please make a decision!"

Unable to control his fury, Ohga replied, "lf you really mean it, prove to me that it's possible." Then he formed a fist, pounded on the desk, and shouted: "DO IT!" [Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation and the Visionaries Who Conquered the World of Video Games - Reiji Asakura; pgs. 36-37]

Another example of Ken Kutaragi
mikecane @ 1/21/2005 3:10:31 PM # Q
Ken Kutaragi joined Sony in 1975. Japan was in the midst of a recession following an oil shock, and the company had adopted a policy of hiring no new employees. However, realizing that a complete freeze in hiring would lead to problems in later years, the company decided to recruit a small number of employees, far fewer than it had in other years. Kutaragi was one of the chosen few.

The Sony employees who joined the company at the same time as Kutaragi were all quirky individuals. Kutaragi soon found himself their leader, because of his role in bringing them together. "I was the rebel leader," he confesses. "From the company's point of view, I was at the top of their blacklist." [Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation and the Visionaries Who Conquered the World of Video Games - Reiji Asakura; pg. 9]

More about Ken Kutaragi
mikecane @ 1/21/2005 3:10:31 PM # Q
When Ken Kutaragi, vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment, is asked to identify the secret behind the creation and development of the PlayStation home game machine, he flatly declares: "I wanted to prove that even regular company employees --no, especially regular company employees -- could build a venture of this scale with superb technology, superb concepts, and superb colleagues."

That the PlayStahon business has been a tremendous financial boon for Sony Computer Entertalnment cannot be denied. Consolidated annual sales of over $7 billion in only its fourth year. Total worldwide shipments, as of September 1998, of 40 million units. The PlayStation has taken on the vast Nintendo kingdom and become the world's leading game platform, both in perception and reality. There is no example of a comparable business that has shown such phenomenal growth for four years after start-up.

Says Sony chairman Norio Ohga: "Sony Computer Entertainment delivers such superb results with astonishingly few employees. Sony itself has much to learn from this example." In fact, Sony Computer Entertainment's contribution to Sony's consolidated profits has reached 23 percent. It is no exaggeration, then, to say that the PlayStation business undergirds Sony's profitability. [Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation and the Visionaries Who Conquered the World of Video Games - Reiji Asakura; prologue; pg. ix]


Why Ken Kutaragi *will* lead Sony
mikecane @ 1/21/2005 3:14:52 PM # Q
His goal line was set ten years ahead. Kutaragi always thought in terms of decades. He defined his first ten years with Sony as the time to polish his technical skills. In 1985, ten years after he joined the company, he encountered various innovative technologies and acquired many talented digital engineers as colleagues. In the next ten years he planned to let the technology take shape, He predicted, on the basis of a detailed technological forecast, that even a leading-edge technology like System G would be transformed into a consumer product in a decade's time. [Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation and the Visionaries Who Conquered the World of Video Games - Reiji Asakura; pgs. 20-21]

RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
Foo Fighter @ 1/21/2005 3:57:22 PM # Q
I don't see what this story has to do with PDAs, there is no mention that Sony may come limping back to the mobile device warzone anytime soon. Just further confirmation they are focussed on PSP.

-------------------------------
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com
RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
mikecane @ 1/21/2005 4:03:29 PM # Q
And I don't see WTF the name of your website has to do with PDAs. Where are all the garment center listings for pocket manufacturers?

Myopia... from you?!

RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
Gekko @ 1/21/2005 6:19:28 PM # Q

MikeCon - nice article about Kutaragi. The guy is an animal. Too bad none of the nitwits at PalmSource or PalmOne have 1/100 of this guy's business acumen. I mean, contrast that knucklehead Nagel against this guy. This Kutaragi has skill, guts, and vision - three things everyone at PalmSource/One lacks. To the victor goes the spoils!


RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
Strider_mt2k @ 1/21/2005 10:41:03 PM # Q
Props where props are due, that was some interesting reading, Mike Cane.

RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
Foo Fighter @ 1/21/2005 11:53:59 PM # Q
>> "And I don't see WTF the name of your website has to do with PDAs."

Perhaps that's because my site doesn't have anything (directly) to do with PDAs. Why would I want to create a PDA website? That venue has been done to death.

-------------------------------
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com

RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
Foo Fighter @ 1/22/2005 12:05:58 AM # Q
>> "Too bad none of the nitwits at PalmSource or PalmOne have 1/100 of this guy's business acumen."

PalmSource can't afford to pay someone of his acumen when most of the company's profit goes to the head nitwit (Nagel).

-------------------------------
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com

RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
mikecane @ 1/22/2005 11:57:18 AM # Q
Contrast Kutaragi to Yankowski. Can you *really* see K coming up with the idea of putting gold thread in *his* suit? (For those late to this party: That fat blob Y had gold threads sewn into the suit he wore on the day that Palm, Inc. stock went public. Not only that, the idiot *bragged* about it in TV interviews on that day! "Hey, not only am I stupid -- let me *tell* you how stupid I actually am!")

RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
Gekko @ 1/22/2005 12:01:29 PM # Q

It all comes back to Benhamou who hired both Yankowski and Nagel.

Con - can you post a link to the full Kutaragi article?


RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
mikecane @ 1/22/2005 12:06:32 PM # Q
Article? It's a book! Those snippets were OCRed (via the QuickLink Pen -- see http://www.wizcomtech.com ) from it (when I read it two years or so ago).

The book is probably available at a public library or you can splurge for it:

http://tinyurl.com/3rzgp

It is well worth reading.

RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
Gekko @ 1/22/2005 12:13:37 PM # Q
I found a chapter excerpt:

Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation and the Visionaries Who Conquered the World of Video Games

EXCERPT
Chapter 1: The Passion

http://tinyurl.com/7yyhv



RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
Gekko @ 1/22/2005 12:41:01 PM # Q
I love that story:

In another room, a few executives watched Carl Yankowski's interview on CNBC, taping it for playback at the employee meeting that was to commence in minutes. After CNBC announcers gushed over "the most talked-about IPO," the camera cut to Carl Yankowski in the Nasdaq studio. Usually a compelling public speaker, Yankowski seemed out of his element. When asked about larger screens for palmtops, he answered stiffly, "We are well positioned whichever way the market goes." As the interview came to a close, the reporter said, "I've got to ask you about your suit." Yankowski smiled. He was wearing a very special suit, he let on, designed to satisfy the public's high expectations from Palm's IPO. The shiny pinstripes woven into the otherwise standard wool suit were made from threads of pure gold. CNBC cut back to the studio anchor. "Was that for real?" he asked the correspondent. The Palm managers assembled around the TV set looked at each other. "We're not showing this video," one of the executives decreed. Then they walked out to start the employee meeting.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0471089656/

RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
Foo Fighter @ 1/22/2005 1:04:27 PM # Q
What's even funnier is I read somewhere that Carl rarely ever visited Palm headquarters. He performed most of his CEO duties from his home somewhere in New England, via vid-conference. Thought could explain a lot about the man, and why he was so out of touch with the PDA market.

-------------------------------
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com
RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
Gekko @ 1/22/2005 1:18:28 PM # Q

How often is Hawkins at headquarters these days?



RE: An example of Ken Kutaragi
mikecane @ 1/22/2005 2:23:14 PM # Q
Wrong question. Given the numbnuts who are obviously there, it is: Why would Hawkins WANT to be there at all?

Hawkins is a figurehead only
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 1/22/2005 2:43:24 PM # Q
How often is Hawkins at headquarters these days?

His title is like an honorary doctorate degree universities give out to politicians. Hawkins is retired from the PDA world and spends his time with his hobby neuro"science" projects. He has as much influence on Palm's future projects as (the late) Henry Ford will have on Ford's 2010 lineup.




******************************************************************
Sony CLIE UX100: 128 MB real RAM, OLED screen. All the PDA anyone really ever wanted.

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sony coming back to the PDA market???

Frenchie @ 1/21/2005 4:00:53 PM # Q
Is this true??? Is sony actually thinking about coming back to the US??? I wonder if they will. Gosh, Palm OS really needs Sony here.

The world will end in 2006. Just as it was predicted in the bible along with the release of Microsoft Longhorn.... :p
RE: sony coming back to the PDA market???
mikecane @ 1/21/2005 4:04:54 PM # Q
Sony is more likely to add PDA-like functions to the PSP than to ever revive the CLIE.

RE: sony coming back to the PDA market???
Wolfgard @ 1/21/2005 4:18:41 PM # Q
If sony ever wants to come back to the PDA business, they must ditch the memory stick format and clamshell design. Imagine a TH55/E with SD card support. THAT's PDA heaven for me;)

pen & paper -> m515 -> Zire72 -> TH55 & Handera 330
RE: sony coming back to the PDA market???
Rome @ 1/21/2005 4:30:52 PM # Q
I wouldn't be surprised that we see a new Palm OS-based handheld from Sony for the rest of the world this coming Fall.



RE: sony coming back to the PDA market???
LiveFaith @ 1/21/2005 5:23:42 PM # Q
Hey, has anyone mentioned the Memory Stick yet?

Pat Horne; www.churchoflivingfaith.com
RE: sony coming back to the PDA market???
Foo Fighter @ 1/22/2005 8:16:13 AM # Q
>> "Sony is more likely to add PDA-like functions to the PSP than to ever revive the CLIE."

They already have, or haven't you heard? Sony is adding a web browser and email client to the PSP. Again, as I said...they are NOT coming back to the PDA market. This article makes no reference whatsoever to PDAs.

If Sony is trying to "Correct its mistakes", then returning to the PDA market would be a mistake. There is no money to be made in the PDA sector, and no one is investing in it. This is why everyone is looking for an escape strategy, searching for new revenue opportunities. Only Dell and HP are still pumping out new models "traditional" PDA models, but that's going to change dramatically this year. It's going to be interesting to see what the mobile device landscape looks like by the end of this year.

-------------------------------
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
Contributing Editor, http://digitalmediathoughts.com

RE: sony coming back to the PDA market???
mikecane @ 1/22/2005 12:01:06 PM # Q
Foo: I referenced the web browser story below. You just didn't scroll down far enough before posting.

Reply to this comment

Apple can learn from Palm's mistakes

mikecane @ 1/21/2005 4:16:16 PM # Q
http://fortt.com/blog/2005/01/apple-can-learn-from-palms-mistakes.html

It's too bad *palmOne* can't learn from their mistakes.

"Nonsense! An iceberg can't sink this ship!"

RE: Apple can learn from Palm's mistakes
svrontis @ 1/24/2005 10:59:06 PM # Q
> It's too bad *palmOne* can't learn from their mistakes.

They don't need to. As Bismark recommended, p1 have learned from the mistakes of others (especially, Sony).

RE: Apple can learn from Palm's mistakes
mikecane @ 1/25/2005 8:22:53 AM # Q
To misquote Gump: Clueless is as clueless does.

Reply to this comment

Sony & Symbian

TwinTurbo @ 1/21/2005 4:50:40 PM # Q
All I know is that Sony Ericsson has some very cool Symbian devices. I really liked the P910i and am currently using the S700i. These are much cooler than a Treo in my opinion and better quality as well.

The Sony Ericsson division seems to be doing just fine with Symbian, although that platform hasn't caught on in the U.S. as much as other areas of the world.

So I'm not sure that Sony would bring back Palm OS based devices, especially since the market trend is towards smartphone and away from PDAs. I was a big fan of the Clie line but I think Sony made a sound business decision to drop it in the U.S. as the margins just aren't there anymore, especially with Dell in the PDA market now.



RE: Sony & Symbian
Wollombi @ 1/21/2005 5:13:50 PM # Q
If Sonly had dropped Memstick in favor of SD or other open standard, stopped creating physical designs that were bizarre (while innovative, they were not very usable), and give you the option of turning off their "enhancements" in the software, then their units would have sold a lot more, and undoubtedly they would have been profitable.

I think that the rapid release cycles also were harmful to them in the long run.

_________________
Sean

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

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