Tuesday, October 17, 2006

As The (Consumer Electronics) World Turns, Apple Should Buy Sony

Today's news items show one more nail in the coffin of Sony's once stellar reputation.

After Apple, Toshiba, Lenovo (IBM), Dell and many others announced the recall of Sony-made laptop batteries, the tragicomedy of Sony continued.

Today, Sony had the ignominy of announcing the recall of Sony batteries from their own laptops. The irony is that a company like Toshiba (that I have owned a laptop of and called TOSHItBA) is going to sue a previous quality and image leader like Sony for (drum roll) doing damage to Toshiba's image. THAT has gotta hurt!

Dell's laptop battery recall is a problem for them, but Dell is not a company I ever considered more than a telephone operator taking orders for boring widget like devices. So, as their own customer base turns away from them for low quality (which was always evident but people who paid low prices did not want to see it), and as manufacturers like HP start doing the "Cheaply Made In China" thing, Dell is finding their ugly, horrible, and often useless customer support system an additional weight around their neck as they start to drown. They can't even sue Sony for THAT.

Apple will recover money from Sony for the bad batteries, but appears to have avoided suffering any hit on their image for quality in this fiasco.

In the meantime, Sony, who created the portable music industry with the Walkman a few decades ago, is nowhere near Apple's iPod. At the same time as Apple's iPod becomes more and more popular, they are making successful forays into consumer electronics. That is an irony that will hurt Sony too.

At one time Sony had a chance to own Apple. Yet Sony foolishly continued to build PCs. Sony's then quality products like Vaio went in the marketplace just to make Microsoft stronger and stronger. Microsoft then used that wealth to enter and eat away at Sony's video games business.

But that was not enough. Sony then shot itself in the foot at EVERY stage. Walkman, Music Store, PSP, now batteries, not to mention next generation DVD. How much further can they fall?

Maybe it's time Sony made a deal with Apple. Unlike 10 years ago, when Sony could have bought Apple, I say, Steve Jobs, buy Sony, please, and save that once great brand.

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