Sony has seen it's share of hurdles. From it's small beginnings as an electronics shop in Tokyo, Sony has established itself as one of the most recognizable names in the technology and home entertainment industries. That name however, has not always carried a positive connotation. Sony was the most prolific name in electronics through the 80's-90's, with icon products like the Walkman, Discman, Trinitron and WEGA TV's , and Sony Ericsson mobile phones. And to get there, Sony has made a name for itself by establishing and creating its own technology formats. And many of these products literally created markets. The CD, Betamax, MiniDisc, & Blu-ray discs. Their introduction to the market when there were already accepted standards made all of these products a gamble for Sony. Their successes though, yielded major payoffs for Sony in the long run. Sony became synonymous with quality electronics, garnering a reputation for the high quality of their premier lines of TV's, commercial video recording/encoding equipment, and home audio/theater products.
The 90's saw a sharp, and dangerous turn for Sony though. With the introduction of a new gaming system, The Sony PlayStation, and it's successor the PlayStation 2, Sony nabbed their own piece of the gaming market, becoming a dominant player. With the commercial success of their high quality TV's, gaming consoles and their established history in the electronics market, Sony became complacent. Lack of innovation began to breed stagnancy inside the historically ground breaking corporation. With the global financial crisis of the mid to late 2000's, increased competition for their PlayStation console and increasing competition in the TV market, followed by the devastating Japanese earthquake of 2011, Sony seemed on the ropes. The unfortunate timing of these these situations all converging caused the Financial Times to criticize the company for its "lack of resilience" and "inability to gauge the economy." The newspaper voiced skepticism about Sony's revitalization efforts, given a lack of tangible results. This was evidenced by Sony's market capitalization cliff jump: $100 Billion in 2000, to $18 Billion in 2011. With Sony set to layoff over 10,000 workers (6% of it's employee base) in 2012, to the sale of it's US Headquarters in January 2013 for $1.1 Billion, things were not looking good. A once giant in the technology industry was now dog paddling to stay afloat in the turbulent waters of today's ocean of tech companies.
Oh what a difference a year makes.
In November 2013, Sony released the PlayStation 4 game console, to an overall warm reception from the tech journalist and retail firms, but flat out boiling hot reception from consumers. Selling more than 4.2 MILLION units of the $399 console in only 43 days, a staggering 97,674 units a day, beating out their only competitor, the Microsoft Xbox One by more than In December 2013, Sony launched their Alpha A7, A7r and A5000 mirrorless cameras to critical acclaim. In January 2014, at the annual CES (Consumer Electronics Show, but don't tell them I called it that, lest I get a nastygram from CES's lawyers), Sony took the event by STORM, showcasing some of the most stunning and breathtaking displays of the show in the 4K UHD television category, and with their behind the scenes partnership with the huge plans and exceptionally bright future of Netflix. Show-goers were treated to true innovation from Sony once again, and it is a welcome sight.
2014 is shaping up to be a phenomenal year for Sony. Having fallen from greatness, and learned the values of humility and hard work all over again, Sony is shaping up to begin a new renaissance. A period of rediscovery. And it's us as consumers who reap the rewards and benefits of having an old player back to competition level play.