Sony is not a franchise, but rather a publicly owned and traded company. Their New York Stock Exchange symbol is SNE. Here is some more information on this public company:
Sony's PlayStation 2 dominates the game console market with about 70?f global sales (Nintendo’s GameCube and Microsoft’s Xbox control about 15?ach). Sony, one of the world's top consumer electronics firms, also makes a host of other products, including PCs, digital cameras, Walkman stereos, and semiconductors; these products account for more than 60?f the company's sales. Sony’s entertainment assets include recorded music and video (Epic and Columbia), motion pictures (Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Pictures Classics), DVDs (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), and TV programming (Columbia TriStar).
In addition Sony sells mobile phones via Sony Ericsson, its joint venture with Ericsson. Sony also owns an 8?take in music club Columbia House.
Sony will be the beneficiary of Konica Minolta's exit from the film and digital camera business; the two companies were developing high-end digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras together that will now be developed by Sony using Maxxum/Dynax lenses developed by Konica Minota. Sony will also take over customer service duties for the company's entire digital and film camera line.
Though the PlayStation still dominates the game machine scene, sales of other electronics (DVD recorders, TVs, and computers) and music have seen a drop. Weak consumer demand, price wars, and increased competition from Apple Computer's iPod, which has clobbered Sony's CD and mini disk Walkman products and Samsung's consumer electronics lines, have cut into Sony's TV sales (its biggest market). These challenges, along with an increasingly stodgy image that's overshadowing its former reputation as the bleeding edge of consumer electronics manufacturers, as well as charges incurred while streamlining operations in recent years, have significantly hurt Sony's market value. To boost sagging sales, Sony is emphasizing high-definition products for consumers and broadcasters, integrated mobile video, music, and gaming products, and semiconductors (aimed at improving product innovation).
Sony went through a major management shake-up in 2005, bringing Sir Howard Stringer on board as chairman and CEO in June. Stringer, who served as head of the company's US and electronics divisions, is the first non-Japanese CEO to head the company. Nobuyuki Idei stepped down as chairman and CEO and serves as a corporate advisor for the company.
After being on the job just a few weeks, Stringer announced plans to implement a plan known as Project Nippon that aims to shake up the electronics business and foster better communication between the company’s divisions. Stringer also announced that he plans to implement a concrete research and development scheme with a greater emphasis on consumer demands and reestablish the brand’s primacy in the Japanese market.
Stringer's reorganization plans build off Sony's last restructuring effort (termed "Transformation 60"), which began in 2004 and was to reduce the company's headcount by 20,000, combine operating divisions, and shift component sourcing to low-cost markets such as China. Stringer's plans call for cutting 10,000 jobs, shuttering 11 manufacturing plants, and reducing the company's electronics product lines by 20?Additionally, Stringer has abolished Sony's 'Network Companies' structure in favor of five product-focused business groups (TV, video, digital imaging, audio, and VAIO) in order to streamline operations from R&D to distribution to marketing; additionally, there are two new product development groups and and two business units focused on semiconductors and electronic components. The company spun off Sony Communication Network, the subsidiary that operates So-Net Internet service (which has nearly 3 million subscribers), through an IPO in December 2005.
Other restructuring plans include the creation of a holding company for the company's Japanese-based retail operations (Sony Plaza, Sony Family Club, B&C Laboratories, CP Cosmetics, Maxim's de Paris, and Lifeneo) and the sale of 51?f the holding company to investment firm Nikko Principal Investments Japan by mid-2006. Sony also plans to transfer its optical disc drive business to a joint venture with NEC, Sony NEC Optiarc, by April 2006.
Sony's PlayStation 3 will be released in November 2006 (pushed back from its original spring release date), nearly a year after Microsoft's Xbox 360, and at about the same time as Nintendo's new console, Wii (pronounced, "we"). Like the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3 is more of a multimedia entertainment hub than a video game system; its computing power will allow users to play a game, chat online and listen to music all at the same time, but it will also be able to render film-quality animations at a resolution that's equivalent to that of a cinematic digital projector. (Nintendo's system will strictly be a gaming console without the DVD and online bells and whistles.) The PlayStation 3 is also backwards compatible with PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games. Sony has no plans to cease development of games for the PlayStation 2 for the time being and will continue to roll out titles specifically for the older game system.
The company's PSP (PlayStation Portable), a Walkman-like device with DVD-quality video launched in Japan in late 2004. The marketing hype surrounding the device's US launch led to long lines at Sony stores when it was released stateside in early 2005. The PSP generated $150 million in sales for Sony the first week it was in stores.
To gain an edge over competitors, Sony is spending about $1.67 billion during the next three years to build a cutting-edge semiconductor plant in Japan. The company has announced that in 2006 it will roll out home servers for broadband and high-definition TV systems powered by its new Cell computer chip (developed with IBM and Toshiba), which also powers the new PlayStation 3.
Sony joined forces with other companies (including Matsushita and Samsung) to form the Blu-ray Disc Association, a group formed in 2004 to establish the Blu-ray optical disc format as the post-DVD standard for optical storage media. In late 2004 Disney agreed to use the Blu-ray format, but not exclusively. Games designed for the PlayStation 3 will be the first mass utilization of the Blu-ray format; the first Blu-ray player is scheduled to be released in July 2006 with a hefty $1000 price tag.
In May 2004 the company launched Sony Connect (originally named Net Music Download), an online music service available to users of Sony's electronics and mobile devices. The service, which will eventually expand to include video downloads, is being managed by a newly formed subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America. This division also became the home, in early 2006, to Sony's Walkman division in an attempt to streamline its entire portable audio business. A few days later, the company announced that it would cease making Walkmans in Japan; as part of Sony's cost-cutting moves, all Walkman brand manufacturing will be moved to Malaysia and China.
In an effort to combat losses in a weakening music industry, Sony merged its music division with BMG; the new company (Sony BMG Music Entertainment) is now the #2 player (after Universal Music). Sony led a consortium of companies (including cable company Comcast and several investment firms) that bought movie studio MGM in early 2005; the acquisition allows Sony to license and distribute MGM's sizeable film library (4,000 films and over 10,000 television episodes). The deal also provides for the creation of film co-productions, cable channels and video-on-demand services that will generate additional revenue for Sony, such as Comcast-Sony Networks, a joint venture with Comcast that will develop new cable networks based around the content of the MGM library.
Answered By: Conan the Librarian - 5/9/2006