In 2005 it was clear to me that Sony was in trouble and Samsung on the rise. I also knew OS X and the iPod were going to be very successful, but I had been conditioned by MSFT's success to think that mediocrity would continue to rule in PCs and other computer products. So I certainly didn't think Apple's market cap would reach its current value.
NYTimes: Sony ... is now in the fight of its life.
In fact, it is in a fight for its life — a development that exemplifies the stunning decline of Japan’s industrialized economy. Once upon a time, Japan Inc., not to mention Sony itself, seemed invulnerable. Today, Sony and many other Japanese manufacturers are pressed on all sides: by rising Asian rivals, a punishingly strong Japanese yen and, in Sony’s case, an astonishing lack of ideas.
... Sony’s market value is now one-ninth that of Samsung Electronics, and just one-thirtieth of Apple’s.
Even in Japan, where many consumers remain loyal to the brand, some people seem to be giving up on the company.
“It’s almost game over at Sony,” said Yoshiaki Sakito, a former Sony executive who has worked for Walt Disney, Bain & Company, Apple and a start-up focused on innovation training. “I don’t see how Sony’s going to bounce back now.”
... Japanese consumer electronics manufacturers “have lost their technology leadership in many areas,” Steve Durose, head of Asia Pacific telecommunications, media and technology ratings at Fitch Ratings, said in a recent industry commentary.
“Ten years ago, these companies were major technology innovators, the creators or leading developers of many electronic products and trendsetting devices such as televisions, digital cameras, portable music players and games consoles,” Mr. Durose said. “Today, however, the number of products remaining where they can boast undisputed global leadership has narrowed significantly, having being usurped or equaled by the likes of Apple and Samsung Electronics.”
... Sony’s woes hurt not just Sony, but also Japan. In the United States, new technologies are often developed by young companies not held back by their past. These upstarts eventually replace slow-to-adapt giants. But in Japan, no major electronics manufacturer has joined the industry’s top ranks for over a half-century. [Unbelievable! But isn't this also true for other sectors in most European countries?] And, though struggling, companies like Sony continue to lure some of the country’s top talent.
... Some analysts wonder if Mr. Hirai — who previously ran the money-losing games and TV businesses — is the right man to lead Sony. A protégé of Mr. Stringer, he appears to have been appointed as much for his ease in English as his management skills, analysts say.
“The bottom line is: if you want to be perceived as a creator of cool tech, you have to create cool tech. The challenge for Sony is that those examples have not been there, and they haven’t been there now for a number of years,” said Steve Beck, founder and managing partner at cg42, a management consulting firm that focuses on brand vulnerabilities at top tech companies. “The tarnish on their brand has definitely begun.”