Hate Sony?

november 17, 2005

I got an IM this afternoon from an old-time buddy and he started the IM like so: "i know how you hate sony now." I just wanted to post about this and get the record set straight: I do not hate Sony. The company has given me many great experiences and working knowledge during my six year stint there. I still love the company and still wish that the company will do better. I have made many friends over the six years I was there and still keep in contact with them. The people that work for Sony Corporation are the hardest working people around, I admire their tenacity for keeping things running at the company.

There are only two things that I don't like about Sony. The first is the inept upper-management which cannot seem to make any good business decisions. The upper-management's incessant need to make everything proprietary and to try to copy protect everything is something that hurts the company -- I have complained enough about this in the past.

The second is the compartmentalization of the different business units. This compartmentalization causes a lot of the issues in the corporation. If you don't know, Sony Corporation is a collection of radically different entities. For example, you have Sony Music, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment of America, Sony Electronics, and a whole slew of other companies inside of the corporation. Each of these companies runs in its own silo -- independent of the other companies, with their own budget and decision making. The only problem is that the different companies will not work with each other. And when they do, all they do is push virtual dollars from one to another -- not really generating any real money. On top of all this is the fact that though they won't work with each other, they can still dictate stuff to each other -- it is a very dysfunctional family we're talking about here.

Say for instance, Sony Electronics has come up with a kick-ass portable music player that would strip the market away from Apple's iPod. The Sony Music group will complain to upper-management, "Wah! They can't release that without putting a copy protection scheme on it. We don't want people to use the player to pirate music! Wah! Wah!" And then, in order to shut the Music group up, upper-management will (stupidly) tell the Electronics group to implement some dumb-ass copy-protection scheme before putting the player on the market -- and hence we now have great hardware from Sony that is tied to the shitty software, SonicStage.

See, the people working at Sony, they are wonderful hard-working people who are genuinely trying to make the company better. The company that Sony was before is gone. The Sony that exists now is a dysfunctional mess that is in desperate need of a radical change in upper-management to bring Sony back to when it was a great company. The current group of upper-management is not brave enough to make changes that will get Sony back on track.

I was talking about this over dinner with a buddy of mine who still works for Sony. He made the observation that these types of changes won't happen overnight, especially for a corporation as large as Sony. I agree, with management that is unwilling to take big bold steps to change the company, these changes will happen over a matter of years. But, can Sony endure that? Will Sony be alive by the time these changes have happened?

Do I hate Sony? No. Do I hate what has happened to such a great company? Yes. I complain about Sony only because there are some serious things wrong with the corporation. I truly hope and wish that they can return to being the great company that they were.