Monday, March 07, 2005

Sell Sony, buy Samsung

The issue isn't that the new CEO Stringer is non-Japanese, but that he is a "content guy" and not a technologist. Idei, the current CEO, was a marketer, the first non-technologist to lead the company. (Founder Akio Morita was an applied physicist who created Sony from the ruins of postwar Japan.) Idei's reign has been lackluster, and I expect the same or worse from Stringer. Expect lots of expensive marketing-driven strategies based around the "convergence of digital content," while other companies eclipse them in core technology development. Does anyone remember AOL-Time Warner?

This is great news for Apple and the iPod, which is ironically the digital successor to Sony's Walkman.

Sony should have appointed Ken Kutagari CEO to have any chance of competing with Samsung, whose growth prospects, profit margins and market cap are superior.

From the Times coverage: "The appointment of Sir Howard appears to be a blow to Ken Kutaragi, the 54 year old executive who built Sony's PlayStation video game unit into the company's most profitable division. A defiant and idiosyncratic engineer, Mr. Kutaragi, who has long been seen as the leading candidate to become Sony's next chief executive, was given responsibility for electronics and semiconductors two years ago. Now he will again just run the game unit. And he gives up his seat on Sony's board."

This article paints Stringer as a skilled politician and corporate climber who knows all the Hollywood movers. Wonderful - perhaps he's even better than Carly - but that doesn't mean he can successfully run a tech company. Will Sony continue to be a player in flat panel display? (Who will make the billion dollar fab investment decisions?) Will their Cell CPU be a competitor in mainstream computing applications? Will they produce a viable iPod competitor?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Agreed.

Anne

fCh said...

Samsung might have something going on for itself yet I would not disocunt SONY either. If, for example, SONY decides to license out its Hi-MD disc standard and drops the price to $1, it still has a run in portable music. For more, read here:

http://chircu.blogspot.com/2005/04/lesson-from-markets.html

Tercetual said...

Hey Steve,
I respect your work very much. Well worded talent goes far in the journalism career. Keep up the good work, so far I've clearly understood and followed up with your writings and I just want to throw some kudos at you, very good to hear people putting their mind to words the clear way :)
Anyways, until the next time I run across your page, c ya' ciao!
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