During a November briefing of media and analysts at Sony headquarters in Tokyo, company chairman Howard Stringer promised greater integration of Sony content and hardware to drive the company’s growth.
To illustrate his point, Stringer showed the guests a diagram of a Sony Online Network, which was made up of a PlayStation Network and console; a Sony TV; a Reader; a Vaio PC; a cell phone; and vaguely drawn “new mobile products.” The network would support consumers in sharing and enjoying personal and premium content. For good measure, the company also predicted 20 percent worldwide market share of LCD TV units by March 2013.
But a corporate presentation does not translate to market reality. Over the last year, Sony’s crown jewel TV business has steadily lost market share to Samsung, Vizio and others. Independent Sony dealers have been clamoring for more product differentiation to separate Sony SKUs from the low-priced sets sold at Walmart and Costco. And Sony’s dream of integrating cross-category hardware and content into a unified consumer experience is barely realized beyond the PlayStation Network.