Sony is to shift strategy to further lock-in customers with hardware and software linked via proprietary online networks, according to comments made by new chief Kazuo Hirai.
The Japanese electronics giant has always been one of the more aggressive manufacturers wen it comes to proprietary standards and far from backing off the strategy, new chief executive and former PlayStation boss Kazuo Hirai says the company will return to profit by doing more of the same.
Hirai told a group of journalists at the firm’s company HQ that he would ‘evolve’ the company to be more like the PlayStation gaming business. "Hardware drives software, and software drives hardware, and it’s all tied in by the network," he said.
Sony has struggled to compete with upstart rivals such as the Korean electronics giant Samsung, not helped by natural disasters and a surging Japanese currency. Compared to those rivals, Sony has the unique resource of substantial content industry holdings such as the firm’s videogames, music and movies divisions.
It’s those resources Hirai says are key to the revival of Sony’s fortunes. It’s not clear if Sony intends trying to flog electronics by making some of the content exclusively available on Sony devices, or if the company will just do more cross-promotion. Certainly the company has a patchy history at delivering digital networks.
"We can turn this company, that traditionally was a purveyor of hardware, into something bigger than that," said Hirai.
The question is whether such a strategy is too little, too late, given that much of the digital land grab for platforms has already taken place. Rivals such as Apple, Google and Amazon are today selling content on immensely popular hardware platforms.
It’s hard to see how owning gaming, music and movie studios makes anyone want to buy your televisions when all that content is already available on other platforms via a myriad of existing online services.
The ailing Japanese giant reported a report $2.9 billion annual loss.