One of the most recognized brand names in the world today, Sony Corporation, Japan, established its India operations in November 1994, focusing on the sales and marketing of Sony products in the country. In a span of 16 years, Sony India has exemplified the quest for excellence in the world of digital lifestyle becoming the country’s foremost consumer electronics brand. With relentless commitment to quality, consistent dedication to customer satisfaction and unparalleled standards of service, Sony India is recognized as a benchmark for new age technology, superior quality, digital concepts and personalized service that has ensured loyal customers and nationwide acclaim in the industry.
With brands names such as BRAVIA, VAIO, Tablet, Handycam®, Cyber-shot, Walkman®, Xplod™, Sony hi-fi, Memory stick® and PlayStation®, Sony has established itself as a value leader across its various product categories of Audio/Visual Entertainment products, Information and Communications, Recording Media, Business and Professional products.
Sony India is one of the most recognized consumer electronics brand in the country, with a reputation for new age technology, digital concepts and excellent after sales service. In India, Sony has its footprint across all major towns and cities in the country through a distribution network comprising of over 10,400 dealers and distributors, 270 exclusive Sony outlets and 23 direct branch locations. Sony India also has a strong service presence across the country with 255 service outlets. Manned by customer friendly and informed sales persons, Sony’s exclusive stores ‘Sony Center’ are fast becoming the most visible face of the company in India. A distinctive feature of Sony’s service is its highly motivated and well-trained staff that provides the kind of attentive and sensitive service that is rare today.
Sony is committed to ensuring that both the products and the marketing activities employed truly make a difference to people’s lifestyles and offer them new dimensions of enjoyment. Relentless commitment to quality, continuous dedication to customer satisfaction and unparalleled standards of service is what differentiates us from countless competitors and reflects a true image of all that is Sony.
It was in 1946 that Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita together with a small team of passionate and committed group of employees started to build “Tokyo Tsushin Kenkyujo” (Totsuko), or “Tokyo Telecommunications Research Institute” into the billion dollar global conglomerate that it is today. The main objective of the company was to design and create innovative products which would benefit the people.
From early attempts at creating products like the rice-cooker to the later success of creating Japan’s first magnetic recorder, the innovative company went on to create other hit products which won the company widespread recognition and international acclaim as a truly global company known for its quality and innovative products. Significant product milestones included Japan’s first transistor radio (1955), Trinitron colour television (1968), Walkman personal stereo (1979), Handycam videocamera (1989), PlayStation (1994), Blu-ray Disc recorder (2003) and PlayStation 3 (2006).
The company name of Sony was created by combining two words of “sonus” and “sonny”. The word “sonus” in Latin represents words like sound and sonic. The other word “sonny” means little son. Used in combination, Sony is supposed to represent a very small group of young people who have the energy and passion towards unlimited creations and innovative ideas. With the far-sight of expanding worldwide, it was in 1958 that the company formally adopted “Sony Corporation” as its corporate name. Easy to pronounce and read in any language, the name Sony, which has a lively ring to it, fits comfortably with the spirit of freedom and open-mindedness.
FORMATS AND TECHNOLOGIES
Sony has historically been notable for creating its own in-house standards for new recording and storage technologies, instead of adopting those of other manufacturers and standards bodies. The most infamous of these was the videotape format war of the early 1980s, when Sony marketed the Betamax system for video cassette recorders against the VHS format developed by JVC. In the end, VHS gained critical mass in the marketbase and became the worldwide standard for consumer VCRs and Sony adopted the format.
While Betamax is for all practical purposes an obsolete format, a professional-oriented component video format called Betacam that was derived from Betamax is still used today, especially in the television industry, although far less so in recent years with the introduction of digital and high definition. Sony launched the Betamax videocassette recording format in 1975. In 1979 the Walkman brand was introduced, in the form of the world’s first portable music player.
1982 saw the launch of Sony’s professional Betacam videotape format and the collaborative Compact Disc (CD) format. In 1983 Sony introduced 90 mm micro diskettes (better known as 3.5-inch (89 mm) floppy disks), which it had developed at a time when there were 4″ floppy disks and a lot of variations from different companies to replace the then on-going 5.25″ floppy disks. Sony had great success and the format became dominant; 3.5″ floppy disks gradually became obsolete as they were replaced by current media formats. In 1983 Sony launched the MSX, a home computer system, and introduced the world (with their counterpart Philips) to the Compact Disc (CD). In 1984 Sony launched the Discman series which extended their Walkman brand to portable CD products. In 1985 Sony launched their Handycam products and the Video8 format.
Video8 and the follow-on hi-band Hi8 format became popular in the consumer camcorder market. In 1987 Sony launched the 4 mm DAT or Digital Audio Tape as a new digital audio tape standard. In addition to developing consumer-based recording media, after the launch of the CD Sony began development of commercially based recording media. In 1986 they launched Write-Once optical discs (WO) and in 1988 launched Magneto-optical discs which were around 125MB size for the specific use of archival data storage. In the early 1990s two high-density optical storage standards were being developed: one was the MultiMedia Compact Disc (MMCD), backed by Philips and Sony, and the other was the Super Density disc (SD), supported by Toshiba and many others. Philips and Sony abandoned their MMCD format and agreed upon Toshiba’s SD format with only one modification based on MMCD technology, viz EFMPlus.
The unified disc format was called DVD which was marketed in 1997. Sony introduced the MiniDisc format in 1993 as an alternative to Philips DCC or Digital Compact Cassette. Since the introduction of MiniDisc, Sony has attempted to promote its own audio compression technologies under the ATRAC brand, against the more widely used MP3. Until late 2004, Sony’s Network Walkman line of digital portable music players did not support the MP3 de facto standard natively, although the provided software SonicStage would convert MP3 files into the ATRAC or ATRAC3 formats.
In 1993, Sony challenged the industry standard Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound format with a newer and more advanced proprietary motion picture digital audio format called SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound). This format employed eight channels (7.1) of audio opposed to just six used in Dolby Digital 5.1 at the time. Unlike Dolby Digital, SDDS utilized a method of backup by having mirrored arrays of bits on both sides of the film which acted as a measure of reliability in case the film was partially damaged. Ultimately, SDDS has been vastly overshadowed by the preferred DTS (Digital Theatre System) and Dolby Digital standards in the motion picture industry. SDDS was solely developed for use in the theatre circuit; Sony never intended to develop a home theatre version of SDDS. In 1998, Sony launched their Memory Stick format; flash memory cards for use in Sony lines of digital cameras and portable music players.
It has seen little support outside of Sony’s own products with Secure Digital cards (SD) commanding considerably greater popularity. This is due in part to the SD format’s greater throughput (which allows faster recording and access), higher capacities, and significantly lower price per unit capacity compared to Memory Sticks available at the same time. Sony has made updates to the Memory Stick format with Memory Stick Duo and Memory Stick Micro. Sony and Philips jointly developed the Sony-Philips digital interface format (S/PDIF) and the high-fidelity audio system SACD. The latter has since been entrenched in a format war with DVD-Audio. At present, neither has gained a major foothold with the general public. CDs are preferred by consumers because of ubiquitous presence of CD drives in consumer devices.
In 2004, Sony built upon the MiniDisc format by releasing Hi-MD. Hi-MD allows the playback and recording of audio on newly introduced 1 GB Hi-MD discs in addition to playback and recording on regular MiniDiscs. Recordings on the Hi-MD Walkmans can be transferred to and from the computer virtually unrestricted, unlike earlier NetMD. In addition to saving audio on the discs, Hi-MD allows the storage of computer files such as documents, videos and photos. Hi-MD introduced the ability to record CD-quality audio with a linear PCM recording feature. It was the first time since MiniDisc’s introduction in 1992 that the ATRAC codec could be bypassed and lossless CD-quality audio could be recorded on the small discs. Sony was one of the leading developers of the Blu-ray Disc optical disc format, the newest standard for disc-based content delivery.
The format emerged as the market leader over the competing standard, Toshiba’s HD DVD, after a 2 year-long format war. The first Blu-ray players became commercially available in 2006. By the end of 2007 the format had the backing of every major motion picture studio except Universal, Paramount, and DreamWorks The Blu-ray format’s popularity continued to increase, solidifying its position as the dominant HD media format, and Toshiba announced its decision to stop supporting HD DVD in 2008. Now, all major studios support Blu-ray and release their films on the format.
Sony is one of Japan’s largest corporations by revenue. It had revenues of ¥6.395 trillion in 2012. It also maintains large reserves of cash, with ¥13.29 trillion on hand as of 2012. In May 2012, Sony shares were valued at about $15 billion. The company was immensely profitable throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, in part because of the success of its new PlayStation line. The company encountered financial difficulty in the mid- to late-2000s due to a number of factors: the global financial crisis, increased competition for PlayStation, and the Japanese earthquake.
The company faced three consecutive years of losses leading up to 2011. While noting the negative effects of intervening circumstances such as natural disasters and fluctuating currency exchange rates, the Financial Times criticized the company for its “lack of resilience” and “inability to gauge the economy.” The newspaper voiced skepticism about Sony’s revitalization efforts, given a lack of tangible results. In September 2000 Sony had a market capitalization of $100 billion; but by December 2011 it had plunged to $18 billion, reflecting falling prospects for Sony but also reflecting grossly inflated share prices of the ‘dot.com’ years. Net worth, as measured by stockholder equity, has steadily grown from $17.9 billion in March 2002 to $35.6 billion through December 2011.
Earnings yield (inverse of the price to earnings ratio) has never been more than 5% and usually much less; thus Sony has always traded in over-priced ranges with the exception of the 2009 market bottom. In April 2012, Sony announced that it would reduce its workforce by 10,000 (6% of its employee base) as part of CEO Hirai’s effort to get the company back into the green. This came after a loss of 520 billion yen (roughly US$6.36 billion) for fiscal 2012, the worst since the company was founded. Accumulation loss for the past four years was 919.32 billion-yen. Sony plans to increase its marketing expenses by 30% in 2012. 1,000 of the jobs cut come from the company’s mobile phone unit’s workforce. 700 jobs will be cut in the 2012-2013 fiscal year and the remaining 300 in the following fiscal year.
On 9 December 2008, Sony Corporation announced that it would be cutting 8,000 jobs, dropping 8,000 contractors and reducing its global manufacturing sites by 10% to save $1.1 billion per year. Environmental record
In November 2011, Sony was ranked 9th (jointly with Panasonic) in Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics. This chart grades major electronics companies on their environmental work. The company scored 3.6/10, incurring a penalty point for comments it has made in opposition to energy efficiency standards in California. It also risks a further penalty point in future editions for being a member of trade associations that have commented against energy efficiency standards. Together with Philips, Sony receives the highest score for energy policy advocacy after calling on the EU to adopt an unconditional 30% reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
Meanwhile, it receives full marks for the efficiency of its products. In 2007, Sony ranked 14th on the Greenpeace guide. Sony fell from its earlier 11th place ranking due to Greenpeace’s claims that Sony had double standards in their waste policies. Since 1976, Sony has had an Environmental Conference. Sony’s policies address their effects on global warming, the environment, and resources. They are taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that they put out as well as regulating the products they get from their suppliers in a process that they call “green procurement”. Sony has said that they have signed on to have about 75 percent of their Sony Building running on geothermal power.
The “Sony Take Back Recycling Program” allow consumers to recycle the electronics products that they buy from Sony by taking them to eCycle (Recycling) drop-off points around the U.S. The company has also developed a biobattery that runs on sugars and carbohydrates that works similarly to the way living creatures work. This is the most powerful small biobattery to date. In 2000, Sony faced criticism for a document entitled “NGO Strategy” that was leaked to the press. The document involved the company’s surveillance of environmental activists in an attempt to plan how to counter their movements. It specifically mentioned environmental groups that were trying to pass laws that held electronics-producing companies responsible for the clean up of the toxic chemicals contained in their merchandise.
The addition of employees of its mobile communications business, included in the scope of consolidation effective from fiscal year 2011, was offset by substantial personnel reductions at production sites in the East Asia and Asia/Pacific regions (i.e., excluding Japan) accompanying the implementation of production adjustments. As a consequence, as of March 31, 2012, the Sony Group had approximately 162,700 employees on its books, down 5,500 from the previous fiscal year-end.
Sony Corporation’s headcount peaked at 23,000 in 1993, after which it remained fairly consistent at approximately 17,000. As of March 31, 2012, Sony Corporation’s headcount was approximately 16,000. Composition of Sony Corporation’s Directors and Corporate Executive Officers
Sony Corporation is the electronics business unit and the parent company of the Sony Group. It primarily conducts strategic business planning of the group, research and development (R&D), planning, designing and marketing for electronics products. Its subsidiaries such as Sony EMCS Corporation (6 plants in Japan), Sony Semiconductor Corporation (7 plants in Japan) and its subsidiaries outside Japan (Brazil, China, England, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and United States) are responsible for manufacturing as well as product engineering (Sony EMCS is also responsible for customer service operations).
In 2012, Sony incorporated rolled most of its consumer content services (including video, music, and gaming) into the Sony Entertainment Network. Sony produced the world’s first portable music player, the Walkman in 1979. This line fostered a fundamental change in music listening habits by allowing people to carry music with them and listen to music through lightweight headphones. Walkman originally referred to portable audio cassette players. Sony utilized a related brand, Discman, to refer to its CD players. It dropped this name in the late 1990s.
Sony sells many of its computer products using the VAIO brand. Sony entered again into the global computer market under the new VAIO brand, began in 1996. Short for “Video Audio Integrated Operation,” the line was the first computer brand to highlight visual-audio features. Sony faced considerable controversy when some of its laptop batteries exploded and caught fire in 2006 resulting in the largest computer-related recall to that point in history. In a bid to join the tablet computer market, the company launched its Sony Tablet series in 2011. The machines run on Google Android software. Sony offers a range of digital cameras. Point-and-shoot models adopt the Cyber-shot name, while digital single-lens reflex models are branded using Alpha. The first Cyber-shot was introduced in 1996.
At the time, digital cameras were a relative novelty. Sony’s market share of the digital camera market fell from a high of 20% to 9% by 2005 Sony entered the market for digital single-lens reflex cameras in 2006 when it acquired the camera business of Konica Minolta. Sony rebranded the company’s line of cameras as its Alpha line. Sony is the world’s third largest manufacturer of the cameras, behind leaders Canon and Nikon. Sony used the LCD WEGA name for its LCD TVs until summer 2005.
The company then introduced the BRAVIA name. BRAVIA is an in house brand owned by Sony which produces high-definition LCD televisions, projection TVs and front projectors, home cinemas and the BRAVIA home theatre range. All Sony high-definition flat-panel LCD televisions in North America have carried the logo for BRAVIA since 2005. Sony is the third-largest maker of televisions in the world. As of 2012[update], Sony’s television business has been unprofitable for eight year.
In December 2011, Sony agreed to sell all stake in an LCD joint venture with Samsung Electronics for about $940 million. On 28 March 2012, Sony Corporation and Sharp Corporation announced that they have agreed to further amend the joint venture agreement originally executed by the parties in July 2009, as amended in April 2011, for the establishment and operation of Sharp Display Products Corporation (“SDP”), a joint venture to produce and sell large-sized LCD panels and modules. Sony also sells a range of DVD players. It has shifted its focus in recent years to promoting the Blu-ray format, including discs and players. Sony produces a wide range of semiconductors and electronic components including image sensors, laser diodes, system LSIs, mixed-signal LSIs, OLED panels, etc. The company has a strong presence in image sensor market.
Sony-manufactured CCD and CMOS image sensors are widely used in digital cameras, smartphones, tablet computers. Sony Ericsson distinguished itself with multimedia-capable mobile phones, which included features such as cameras. These were unusual for the time. Despite their innovations, SMC faced intense competition from Apple’s iPhone, released in 2007. From 2008 to 2010, amid a global recession, SMC slashed its workforce by several thousand. Sony acquired Ericsson’s share of the venture in 2012 for over US$1 billion. In 2009, SMC was the fourth-largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world (after Nokia, Samsung and LG).
By 2010, its market share had fallen to sixth place. Sony Mobile Communications now focuses exclusively on the smart phone market. Launched in 1994, the first PlayStation gained 61% of global console sales and broke Nintendo’s long-standing lead in the market. The console has become the most successful of all time, selling over 150 million units as of 2011[update]. Early on, poor sales performance resulted in significant losses for the company, pushing it to sell the console at a loss.
It later introduced the PlayStation Move, an accessory that allows players to control video games using motion gestures.Early on, the format was used for movies, but it has since lost major studio support. Sony released a disc-less version of its PlayStation Portable, the PSP Go. The company went on to release its second portable video game system, PlayStation Vita, in 2011 and 2012. Sony Online Entertainment operates online services for PlayStation, as well as several other online games. In 2011 hackers broke into the PlayStation Network online service, stealing the personal information of 77 million account holders.
Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. (SPE) is the television and film production/distribution unit of Sony. With 12.5% box office market share in
2011, the company was ranked 3rd among movie studios. Its group sales in 2010 were US$7.2 billion. The company has produced many notable movie franchises, including Spider-Man, The Karate Kid, and Men in Black. It has also produced popular television game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Sony entered the television and film production market when it acquired Columbia Pictures Entertainment in 1989 for $3.4 billion. SPE’s television division is known as Sony Pictures Television.
For the first several years of its existence, Sony Pictures Entertainment performed poorly, leading many to suspect the company would sell off the division. In July 2000, a marketing executive working for Sony Corporation created a fictitious film critic, David Manning, who gave consistently good reviews for releases from Sony subsidiary Columbia Pictures that generally received poor reviews amongst real critics. Sony Music Entertainment (also known as SME or Sony Music) is the second-largest global recorded music company of the “big four” record companies and is controlled by Sony Corporation of America, the United States subsidiary of Japan’s Sony Corporation. The company owns full or partial rights to the catalogues of Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Usher, Eminem, Akon, and others. In one of its largest-ever acquisitions, Sony purchased CBS Record Group in 1987 for US$2 billion. In the process, Sony gained the rights to the catalogue of Michael Jackson, considered by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the most successful entertainer of all time.
In 2004, Sony entered into a joint venture with Bertelsmann AG, merging Sony Music Entertainment with Bertelsmann Music Group to create Sony BMG. In 2005, Sony BMG faced a copy protection scandal, because its music CDs had installed a controversial feature on users’ computer that posing a security risk to affected users. In 2007, the company acquired Famous Music for US$370 million, gaining the rights to the catalogues of Eminem and Akon, among others. Sony bought out Bertelsmann’s share in the company and formed a new Sony Music Entertainment in 2008. Since then, the company has undergone management changes.
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