back to article Sony stock slides to 30-year low after record loss

Sony shares dropped to a 30-year low on the Tokyo Stock Exchange today after reporting a record loss of $5.7bn. The Japanese tech goliath predicts the first profit in five years in 2013, but investors seem unconvinced that the company can turn around its TV business and make any inroads into the smartphone market. Its shares …

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Anonymous Coward

The curse of the rootkit

is finally starting to work.

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Mushroom

Re: The curse of the rootkit

I'd say, they had it coming!

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Anonymous Coward

Don't forget about bludud...

They paid off the movie studios to force a standard that wasn't finalized down our throats...

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Facepalm

Re: The curse of the rootkit

FFS, it's like a bunch of parrots here whenever there is a story about Sony.

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Anonymous Coward

instead of

design by committee, need to produce the goods we want but still keep missing the boat.

Remember the atrac walkman.

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Linux

Not just The curse of the rootkit

Also how they tried to screw George Hotz over, for helping their customers find new and innovative ways of using their products.

Sony's problem is they are a schizophrenic company, with the media/content side of the biz determined to make customer copying and innovation difficult, having dominated the consumer electronics side of the biz which needs to make these things easier.

Best for the shareholders for these 2 sides to agree an amicable divorce and go their separate ways. They are on 2 sides of a wider culture war much too big for Sony to solve.

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Happy

Re: The curse of the rootkit

For the rootkits alone, they deserve to go under.

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Re: The curse of the rootkit

I'd like to think the way they removed features from the PS3 has something to do with this. I am still quite pissed off about that, and won't forget it any time soon. Prob won't buy any more Sony kit if i can avoid it.

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Re: The curse of the rootkit

Another company would make scandal a PR legend by publicly firing every single manager who is responsible for that scandal and sue them for conspiracy. I, personally believe there was some unexplained stuff went on. It is way too stupid risk to take.

I think of Apple. They would sure do it. That is why they approach to trillion dollars.

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Anonymous Coward

You wonder why..

when the media prefers to write things like this, yet totally ignoring the news that the PS3 has outsold the Xbox360 for the 4th straight year in a row...

I wonder who pays the bills (or steves as they are now known...) around here

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Re: You wonder why..

I guess it would be because selling PS3s hasn't got the company into profit any more than buying one has got you into a triple digit IQ.

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Re: You wonder why..

Probably because the media aren't quite as obsessed with the XBox as you are. To be that blinkered that you see a lump of plastic and silicon that you don't like everywhere you look indicates a need for some serious help

This is about one of the iconic brands of the 90's and noughties that's in severe danger of going right royally tits up. The XBox isn't relevant to this story - whatever way you look at it Microsoft make enormous profits, Sony don't and that's the story. Why Sony are in deep shit is an interetsting question but one things for sure i that the games consoles conflict is a sideshow

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You wonder why..

Consoles are usually sold at a loss with the companies making money from game sales. So if you're going to look at profit in relationship to console sales, you need to factor in game & accessory sales. And if they've hit their ROI numbers. I suspect TheReg already has an article crunching the #'s for you...

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LPF
Thumb Up

Re: You wonder why..

You know for a response that funny you should really have put your name to it :)

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Re: You wonder why..

and for the 4th year in a row MS makes literlly zero money trying to kill sony WHOM also sells at just barely a profit per unit and with the 1st two years of loss per unit well it made no money ...

ya you wonder how stupid idiots make posts like yours ...

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Anonymous Coward

Stop Shafting Your Vaio Customers

No video driver updates and you cannot use AMD's generic drivers as those nice people at Sony make AMD blacklist you.

As above for the realtek sound drivers which are crippled so stereo mix record is deliberately broken.

Free upgrade to windows 7 from Vista required a £25 handling fee ! WTF is it made from that requires a £25 handling fee, Plutonium ?

Sony, you took my money then completely shafted this customer. I will never spend another penny with Sony and I hope you lose even more money.

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Ogi

Re: Stop Shafting Your Customers

Corrected the title for you.

Sony has royally shafted all their customers. Back in 1992 when minidisc came out, it could have taken the world by storm. Smaller than a tape, CD-quality sound (good enough anyway), can't scratch the disk as it in a case, recordable, even in the field!

By all intents and purposes it should have taken over from both tape and CD, but noo, Sony had to cripple it with proprietary lockouts, and even go so far to split the format in "Minidisc-data" and "minidisk-audio", and go so far as to prevent people making computer drives that could write minidisk-audio (nobody bothered with minidisc-data as a consequence).

talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Sony could have owned the media market pre-mp3 (and then had the clout to sustain and perhaps embrace the mp3 revolution). Instead the blew their leg off and continued to stagger on until the late 90's.

Once again, mp3's came out, rather than embrace them they made their own lossy format (Atrac), but once again cripped it with DRM and you had to use only their windows software (sonicstage was it?) which was a POS like no other (you had to check songs in and out, and if you checked it out 3 times, that was it, you can't listen to it anymore). Buggy as hell.

So now Sony blew their other leg off, and finally adopted mp3 (long after Apple and others had left them in the dust). Panicking now, they had the wonderful idea of rootkitting your PC if you stuck a Sony CD in there, for god forbid you wanted to rip it to an mp3! They ballsed the mp3 revolution up, so now have to stop you from doing it.

Great! So now they blew an arm off as well, another arm went with the otherOS and PS3, and well.. quite frankly they've run out of limbs.

I stopped with the minidiscs, and since the rootkit fiasco refused to pay Sony (and its sister companies) a cent. Forget about the shock of their share price plummeting, I'm amazed they survived this long. I assume it was momentum they built up from a time in the 80's when they built damn good quality hifi and electrical equipment... because most smaller firms would have collapsed years ago from this level of mismanagement and micromanaged freakery.

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MJI
Silver badge

ATRAC

The reason they used this is very simple.

It is the Minidisc compression algorithm, it is efficient, it works, but as you found the software is not good.

As to other standards - we all remember the losers, the memory sticks are no better and no worse than SD, just a different format.

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Ogi

Re: ATRAC

And they already had it :) (After all, it was used in the Minidisc's already). It was their deployment of it that really messed everything up. If they made it as flexible as mp3 (multiple software encoders, published specs, etc...) they may have had some running against mp3 initially. It was for the time a very good lossy compression format, alas they didn't share, mp3 got refined (specifically thanks to the lame guys) and beat it out in quality in the end.

Instead I remember people hacking out libraries from realmedia encoder (as realplayer apparently used atrac for its audio streaming) and using those to (de|en)code atrac files on PC's. This worked ok, but without the keys needed to digitally encrypt the files prior to transfer to the minidisc (the net-MD concept they finally allowed after mp3 players had already taken off, too little too late really) it still pretty useless. The big advantage is that you could add your ATRAC files directly and have the software not transcode it for you (slowly).

My point is that Sony had some excellent hardware ideas, it was the execution from the management perspective that messed things up. I think that minidisc could have dominated had they made it as flexible as CD (or hell, they allowed people to "burn" Minidiscs on their PC), but they were so petrified of piracy, they crippled it fatally. People had to record from CD in "real time", and not surprisingly, when the first companies started the mp3-cd concept, the ability to quickly burn multiple albums on your PC to CD blew away Sony's chances.

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Anonymous Coward

Point of order

Point of order - ATRAC was the encoding used on minidisc; it wasn't invented to compete with MP3, rather, they already had it (and it was much cheaper to decode, too). Interestingly the format is still in common use in PS3 games; the PS3 can easily decode 512+ simultaneous streams in software, which is fast enough to use for sound effects.

But yes, Sony has this attitude that says they make the best products so they can afford to alienate customers. Kaz Hirai is not going to kill that attitude, it's the conceit the company is founded on. Sony's ultimate issue is the culture of its corporate HQ, and that is never going to change. The VPs worldwide only rise to the top on account of their acceptance of the Japanese craziness, too, so they're not going to rock the boat, even though most of them would agree in private that Sony's arrogant attitude is a public relations disaster.

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Ogi

Re: Point of order

I meant it in scope of them offering it running on PC's. At that point the only place you could get an ATRAC encoder was inside the hardware (although I assume somewhere in the deepest darkest depths, they had a software implementation used for those mastered minidiscs, which probably ran on PC's). It would also make sense that after 20+ years of development, Sony would continue to use ATRAC internally, as it is theirs. If they used mp3 they would have to pay for a licence + royalties. Lame is only allowed for research purposes (officially).

ATRAC was a very good codec, one of the nicest things about it is that you its quality was encoder led. This means that improvements in encoder quality didn't break old decoders. A music file encoded with ATRAC3 (For example) actually sounded better on an ATRAC1 decoder than an ATRAC1 encode would.

Plus it was energy efficient. My old minidisc player gave me 40 hours of playback from 1 AA battery (60+ hours if I used the internal battery as well). It took a long while until mp3 players caught up with that, and they didn't have the whole issue power draw from the rotating assembly (HD-based ones excepted).

It had a lot of potential like I said, it was Sony's control-freakery and paranoia about piracy that ruined their chances.

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Mp3 would not even exist

Atrac does sound way better on half of the bandwidth of mp3. If they acted exactly like mp3 guys, the format we're calling mp3 wouldn't exist or its features would be embedded into Atrac. It is IF they called mpeg meeting, documented it and let entire industry use it.

Forget mp3 lesson, they sure knew why beta (actually better than vhs) failed, vhs had multiple vendor support, beta didn't.

So, this stupid way of administering the company and its intellectual property exists since 1970s, there is no "genius ceo retired" story.

Ps: if you look at its spec (especially speed), memory stick is similar story.

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MJI
Silver badge

Re: ATRAC

Hmm downmarked for dissing SonicStage.

I actually LIKE ATRAC but not the software

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I do hope they sort themselves out. While the company themselves can be completely schizo at times, and can act like assholes, they do make very good kit. They're not the only people I use, but the Sony kit I have bought has never let me down, and tends to be technically superior to the majority of the market.

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Anonymous Coward

re: they do make very good kit

You missed out the words "used to."

Many of us used to look no further --- but now I doubt that they have any great advantages except a name, which people will soon forget.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: re: they do make very good kit

You missed out the words "used to."

And also "root".

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Flame

Oops, sorry, clearly I forgot the narrative on this comment thread. I can't recognise a company for making decent tech whilst acting like wankers. I have to hate them unconditionally.

Grrr, Sony shit, all bad, nothing good, grrr, knuckles bleeding, make mad, grrrrr.

Morons.

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Thumb Down

They're on my list of businesses I won't give business to at the minute as I think their behaviour in the last few years has been appalling, although no one stays on that list forever because if they did... I wouldn't buy anything, would I?

Anyway, I hope they survive, mostly because even with the job losses, they employ a lot of people and we don't want any more job losses. I hope they learn to treat their staff and customers better, stop doing stupid things like forcing you to use memory cards that are almost but not quite standard SD cards that cost significantly more, removing advertised features, etc.

If they're blaming everything but the stuff they have done wrong though, I won't hold my breath.

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WTF?

How dare you bring common sense and experience into this, this is a Sony bashing story. They did a rootkit don;t you know! A ROOTKIT!

Well, one of their subsiduaries did, completely without the knowledge of Sony themselves. On a CD 3 people bought. Then they dared to get a bit miffed when someone decided to hack their copy protection machanisms to bits so people could play games without paying for them. This resulted in them removing a not-particularly well advertised feature 6 people cared about, which is shocking. I mean how dare they add loads of useful stuff like LoveFilm / Iplayer etc, 3D a DivX support, then take away the ability to turn it into a crippled Linux box? I mean that's just not on.

However in the real world I have every confidence they will sort themselves out. They still make some of the best kit out there. A lot fo the kit in my place is from Sony, and problems with it have been minimal. Any time I have had a fault Sony have sorted it no questions asked. It also tends to place nicely with non-Sony kit, which is more than I can say for the sole piece of Fruitware I have.....

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FAIL

How dare they...

You forgot to mention them going to court to get the ip address of everyone who looked at a web site. Not downloading software, just looking. Their reaction was over the top. And many people do care about removed features. Have to read their latest EULA for the playstation? If you click yes (which allows you to play new games) it means you cannot sue them for any wrong doing in the future. So it looks like they are adding bullshit to the new things on the PS3.

I and everyone I know will NEVER buy another Sony product. Maybe after they raise from the ashes I'll give them another look.

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Re: How dare they...

You mean the terms in the EULA which are also in the EULA for Xbox Live, T-Mobile, Vodafone, etc etc. But I assume it's OK for those other companies to do it but not Sony because......

I'm personally happy to keep buying Sony stuff as personally, I haven't had a problem with anything I've bought from them. Neither has anyone else I know for that matter, they all seem to buy it for the same reason I do...it's damn good kit. Feel free to think different if you like, but I'd say you'd be missing out on a lot of quality products due to reasoning which is quite frankly, nonsense.

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Re: How dare they...

It's not ok for any company to try to remove your rights by forcing you to agree to EULA in order to continue to use a product. I don't do business with any of the companies you mention. I don't think EULAs will stand up in a court of law any way, as it is impossible to say who (clicked) agreed to it.

I'm glad you support Sony. But I can't cannot think of any other company that people hate so much. Word of mouth is stronger than fanboism.

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Anonymous Coward

@Bodhi - Those 6 people who cared

about a not-particularly well advertised feature were paying customers. Oh, and if I'm not mistaking, one of the six was US Army.

You are free to love Sony but no honest company would come back and cripple a product you already paid for, ever.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How dare they...

I, for one, not only looked at the web site, but downloaded everything I could find there.

Shortly after I threw out my 1972 Sony TV, still in working order despite my 15 mo. old daughter pitching it on its back in about 1974; and also resolved never to buy another Sony product. Other brands have for long been as good or better at the same or lower price.

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Nobody blames thieves

Lets hate them for Linux removal but lets not forget their reason (or excuse): crackers abused it to pirate games. Those assholes abused it. It is always missing from comments/ stories. Linux has been the victim here and there was no way you can hand a binary "secret" drm key to FSF/GNU to install Linux. It would be absurd. So, Linux gone.

It isn't like Sony ceo woke up one day and decided to hate Linux. As media can't say the true reason (or freetards flame), some suicidal guys like me should fill the blanks.

Piracy was the reason why Amiga died too.

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Also one of Those 6 people

Mark Russinovich of nt internals, a windows kernel hacker so good that Microsoft acquired his company.

Lack of luck? Put win rootkit to the CD of the band he is fan of? Did Sony really, really investigate bmg boss? Or what's next? Put .pwn.sh to a weird Finn band CD and gift

it to Linus? :)

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Flame

Re: Ilgaz - Nobody blames thieves

Nobody blames the theives because they removed linux *before* piracy was even possible.

George Hotz demo'd a proof of concept hack that required interfering with the hardware to make it 'glitch', under PS3 Linux. There was no piracy at that point. Sony removed linux, then the firmware *without* linux was cracked and piracy enabled.

People like you get flamed because you have your facts and your timeline wrong.

'Hacking' was an extremely flimsy excuse for removing the capability, not a good reason at all.

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Silver badge

Re: Nobody blames thieves

That might be the excuse, but Sony was selling PS3 below cost, and making it up on games.

People were buying batches of PS3s and networking them into low cost high power number crunching systems. They were not buying games, they were costing Sony money, so they had to die.

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Silver badge
WTF?

Record low eh?

This can result in one of two things happening

1: With Kazuo Hirai in charge, he might actually have the brains and the bals to turn the company around. This will lead them to contineud profits which will grow and grow.

2: No matter what he does the company is doomed and will surely die. OR get bought out by another company since they have a load of patents..

So my options are

1: Buy shares, wait for their profits to go up and up and become rich

2: Buy shares, wait for them to get bought out, and have my shared bought off me for more than they're worth.

3: They dont' get bought out and my stocks become paper.

... To invest, or not to invest, that is the question.

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Ogi

I think 1 or 2 can happen, but not 3. If the worst comes to the worst they'd get bought out eventually. As witnessed by the number of fanboys, Sony brand name still has a lot of monetary value. They also hold patents and have some good technologies (e.g. Cell processor). They earn good money in non-consumer space in specialist areas (supercomputers, embedded systems, DSP processing, etc...)

The question is will the stock go up or down before 1 and 2 apply? I honestly cannot say. Depends on how much of a loss you're willing to take, and how confident you are in judging the firms potential for future performance! :)

Good luck! (Alas, I'm not allowed to invest, so I just get to watch)

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Like electrohome

Even if all that's left of the once great company is the name, they will sell that to someone to stick on cheap crap from China.

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Silver badge

I really don't think that the rootkit fiasco or the PS3/Linux matter are all that important as reasons for Sony's predicament. People reading this site might care but that means nothing compared to the numbers of people who used to buy Sony gear, and no longer do.

A year or two ago I was given a Sony mp3 player as a gift, which was about a $90 item. It came with some sort of proprietary cable (don't recall what is was for, exactly, it was required) and when I looked at the cost of buying a replacement cable, I found the retail price was... $70! So naturally the mp3 was returned, and a player from a reputable manufacture was bought in its place.

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@Turtle

True words that.

Geeks like us aside, the simple fact is that Sony had a long-standing policy to make things as inconvenient and pricey as possible for its customers. That means non-standard hardware, strange file formats, convoluted EULAs and DRM-crippleware. To be honest, it might be their engineers with not-invented-here syndrome, not just the marketing suits. Also, absorbing piracy-obsessed media companies is hereby shown to be risky for hardware folks.

Sony seems to be wisening up lately, but I don't know if it will be in time for them to move back up from also-ran. The only hardware I have from them is a PS3, which I am happy enough with (50+ page mandatory OS-update EULAs aside). But they are definitely at the tail end of my prospective manufacturer list for new purchases.

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Anonymous Coward

@Turtle

Like Apple, except much less successful.

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Mushroom

Revenue of Lik Sang

http://www.lik-sang.com

24th of 2006 - Lik-Sang.com, the popular gaming retailer from Hong Kong, has today announced that it is forced to close down due to multiple legal actions brought against it by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited

Furthermore, Sony have failed to disclose to the London High Court that not only the world wide gaming community in more than 100 countries relied on Lik-Sang for their gaming needs, but also Sony Europe's very own top directors repeatedly got their Sony PSP hard or software imports in nicely packed Lik-Sang parcels with free Lik-Sang Mugs or Lik-Sang Badge Holders, starting just two days after Japan's official release, as early as 14th of December 2004 (more than nine months earlier than the legal action). The list of PSP related Sony Europe orders reads like the who's who of the videogames industry, and includes Ray Maguire (Managing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Alan Duncan (UK Marketing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Chris Sorrell (Creative Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Rob Parkin (Development Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited), just to name a few.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a shame, but it's not unexpected

I bought a lovely little midi unit from Sony, cost me an arm and a leg. Sleek, simple, no bells and whistles and no flashing lights. And of course, being Sony it went tits up inside of six months.

Sent it back for repairs, and heard nothing for weeks and weeks and weeks...

Chased them up and it turns out that they'd had it in, fixed it, and then SOLD IT to someone else. They replaced it "like for like", and gave me some ridiculous piece of shit "DJ!" stereo thing that had more flashing lights and bells and whistles than an embarrassed Christmas tree. Absolute piece of shit. And about three times the size of the previous unit. I only accepted it cause it was clear that there was no chance of getting a genuinely equivalent unit back from them. It was so bad it might as well have had Amstrad written on the front of it.

It only lasted six months before it failed too. And it was crap for all that time too.

I was fobbed off, and I won't forget that in a hurry. Sony - you have lost trust. Perhaps you should look at Disruptive Technology... Your customers will do things with your product you never dreamed of, and that will only make you stronger.

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Conflict of interest

A company shouldn't do technology and media at the same time... the two sides are at odds with each other.

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Re: A company shouldn't do technology and media at the same time

Why? Apple does it pretty good since iPod era. Well, it doesn't do media, it mostly sells/distributes, but Sony BMG doesn't create music either, it just "helps" musicians to do this. Same with books and games.

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Unhappy

Once upon a time...

There was a time when you could buy a Sony product (no matter what) just as a matter of course and be pretty safe in knowing that you'd get good value for the money. A lot of companies would do anything to have that kind of reputation. So what happened? Bad management? Cost pressures?

I recently picked up a Sony table radio from the late 1970s. It still works well, looks good and sounds good. The internal build quality is very high. I could go on and on about similar Sony products spanning many years, from cordless phones to television sets. Most are still around and still giving good service.

If anything, it seems like they started to falter in the 1990s and the whole rootkit-on-music-CD was just the capstone to a series of less than stellar products and services.

I've got my doubts that Sony will fail, given their diversity. They do need to get their products back up to where they used to be, though.

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Industry says

Getting into media industry killed them. That is end of 80s. If you follow timeline, it seems valid.

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