Thursday, 6 February 2014
SONY remains an iconic brand to me. If I am buying a TV it is going to be a SONY. I have had my reality enchanted by fantastic SONY products. A Buddakan Walkman I now really regret throwing away, just because cassete tapes where no longer shiny. An XBR CRT TV that played every format and used any voltage.
By far my favorite was a Stereo Betamax player. I bought it at Whitby Audio when Beta and VHS were fighting Samurai. I paid $1200 1984 dollars for my precious, in today's dollars over $5000. I was a pioneer that got arrows. Although at the pro level Betamax remained the sole professional analog choice until the advent of digital, for the consumer VHS silently slaughtered Betamax a few months after I brought my baby home.
The Stereo Betamax was state of the art both audio and video. I always had a reel to reel envy. On this machine you could record two hours of your own music with perfect replication. Specification wise Beta beat VHS like a rented mule. Sony was so arrogant about its technical superiority it failed to remember money talks. IMHO VHS bribed Hollywood paying exorbitant sums for content. If you ever wonder why a DVD or Blu ray costs so much, read the history of the Betamax VS VHS war.
Well the way things are going in five years TV could be all that remains of SONY. That despite the fact that in the last nine years the TV division has lost $7.5 Billion dollars. SONY still has a great business making optical sensors for cameras. If you buy another Japanese icon NIKON most likely it will have SONY CMOS sensor. The rest looks like trash. The advent of LCD TV made SONY's technical prowess meek. They had a chance to regain the lead with OELD technology, but got cold feet and now its Samsung and LG who have leading edge models for sale. SONY is pinning its TV comeback hopes on 4K TV. IMHO this dog will not hunt. The reason is the human eye just cant see the difference until screen size is in the hundred inch zone, and there are not a lot of consumers for TV's that cost more than a fully loaded Honda Civic.
SONY has suffered from the commditization of consumer electronics. With TV screens so large, people do not care about the small logo. The MP3 revolution has raised a generation of consumers who do not demand the best in Consumer Electronics, only good enough. I wish SONY well, I hope even when we just plug a device into our optical nerve, there still a SONY at the other end of the cable.
I will miss all the Japanese innovation. Everything mechanical or electronic we enjoy today for pennies on the dollar is a result of the blood sweat and tears of the Japanese. They were on the bottom working their way up and turned the world upside down for the better.