How do you fix a problem like Sony’s chronically ailing TV business? New company CEO Kaz Hirai reckons the answer lies in streamlining the number of products offered, by a full 40 percent during the fiscal 2012, and focusing on the development and introduction of new high-end displays such as OLED and Crystal LED.
40%. Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? It’s not.
The company still makes a confusing catalog of gadgets that overlap or even cannibalize one another. It has also continued to let its product lines mushroom: 10 different consumer-level camcorders and almost 30 different TVs, for instance, crowd and confuse consumers.
Sony has 30 TV models. A 40% reduction means the company is still making 18 models. Eighteen. To me that’s 15 more models than necessary. If it was up to me I’d slash everything down to three models: Sony TV – M, Sony TV – L, and Sony TV – XL. M for medium would be 40 inches, L would be 50, and XL 60—give or take a couple of inches.
â€œSony makes too many models, and for none of them can they say, â€˜This contains our best, most cutting-edge technology,â€™â€ Mr. Sakito said. â€œApple, on the other hand, makes one amazing phone in just two colors and says, â€˜This is the best.â€™â€
Sony would fuse the very best in displays, video processing, materials, etc. into these three models. Millions would be manufactured significantly reducing component costs, improving yields, and lowering prices. All three models would be sold at incredibly competitive prices and they would also be the company’s finest. Now that would be a turnaround, like Apple.
But that’s probably not going to happen. There was but one Steve Jobs. When he returned to Apple in 1997 he went to the whiteboard, drew a 2×2 box, wrote consumer and professional on one axis and desktop and notebook on the other. I don’t know how many crappy Macs Apple was kicking out at the time, but to axe everything down to just four models is a draconian move only Steve Jobs could have pulled off. Steve Jobs Kazuo Hirai is not, but can he turn Sony around? He’d have a better chance by slashing 90%.