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Archive for May 2011

Sony Fragmented

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For decades, Sony has been synonymous with technology.  From TVs to camcorders and cameras, games consoles to PCs and now entering the tablet Market, Sony has established itself as a prominent player in the electronics and digital entertainment industries.  However, the corporation has seen it’s position slide over the past decade, with massive shifts in almost all of it’s markets.

Sony grew tremendously over two decades, with revolutionary products and technologies like the Walkman, Trinitron TVs and the Playstation games console defining, growing and advancing the industries they sought to conquer.  However the increase in competition and the pace at which new technologies emerge made it difficult for Sony to maintain it’s dominance.  The arrival of the iPod signalled the end of the Walkman, which like every other device has failed to compete with Apple’s digital media devices and Trinitron technology, the heart of Sony’s CRT TVs was made redundant by the advent of LCD HDTVs.  Sony knew it had to adapt and change to meet the diverse needs of an evolving world.

Fragmented Sony

In June 2005, Sony appointed Howard Stringer as CEO, marking the first time a foreigner has been given the position.  At the time, the British-born businessman said he would bring the group together to offer better products and services.  Since then, Sony has seen major changes to some of it’s divisions, but continues to suffer substantial losses and still doesn’t have the kind of prominence it had just a decade ago.  The corporation’s market capitalisation fell behind one of it’s biggest rivals in the games industry in 2007 when Nintendo rose to second place in Japan, adding to the already humbling market conditions Sony experienced.

However, one division has continued to perform strongly and consistently throughout this trying decade.  Sony Computer Entertainment, which is responsible for the highly successful Playstation games consoles, has been very profitable and offset some of the losses of other divisions.  Sony’s entry into the console space solidified a new source of profit and the latest generation, the Playstation 3, is the most forward thinking yet and is now in it’s prime with exclusive titles and the power of the hardware finally paying off.  Yet despite the success these products, Sony is still fragmented, a collection of separate divisions that lack a common focus.  A prime example of this was the distribution of the James Bond films, something under the purview of Sony Pictures and yet they were available on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Market place before Sony’s own Playstation Network store.  This is exactly what Sir Howard was talking about addressing when he took over Sony in 2005.

Playstation Buttons

What Sony lacks is a common focus and an integrated environment in which consumers can experience it’s products and services.  The Japanese corporation needs to leverage it’s considerable resources to create an unparalleled experience by directing the different divisions to a common goal.  Sony has great influence in consumer electronics, video games, film and music and combining these resources would result in a more cohesive company with focus, direction and a global image that is unique.  If Sony can achieve this coherence, it may once more lead innovation and technological advancement and see a return to prominence.


Written by atalukdar

May 30, 2011 at 1:00 am

Microsoft Skype

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In an increasingly imperial World Wide Web, Skype has remained a service that isn’t broad, but very good at what it does.  So it was no surprise when the Microsoft empire has now acquired the service to add to it’s arsenal in the war against Google and Apple.  It is however interesting to note that Microsoft already has it’s own application, msn messenger, which includes chat, voice and video communication, but Skype offers something that msn is currently lacking, a thriving user base, largely due to social networking sites such as Facebook having the same features as msn integrated.

Clearly Microsoft has recognised this huge shift to social networking sites, as it has already created a new division to house Skype, with a focus on bringing social networking to the service.  However, it is this new focus and broadening of Skype’s feature set that could lead to the application’s downfall. Microsoft doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to innovation and is constantly playing catchup with the competition.  Furthermore, Google has made numerous attempts to create a social network to rival Facebook, but every attempt failed to gain any traction and like Microsoft itself, is left with a trail of disjointed services and cancelled projects.

Microsoft Skype

So what does this mean for current users of Skype?  Microsoft has promised that support for rival devices will continue, but the new focus on social networking is a worry for many.  The company doesn’t seem to realise that the success of Skype is partly due to the small contact lists users have.  It’s a way of keeping in touch and communicating with close friends and family, rather than the hundreds of friends on a social network and many users may object and defect to other services.

This presents a new problem for users.  What alternative is there?  Apple, Google, aol and many others all have offerings in the chat, voice and video communication space, but none have the awareness that Skype enjoys and this could make it difficult for any of them to replace it.  Which leaves new and future options to take up the reins.  Apple’s FaceTime is particularly well placed to succeed, with hugely popular mobile devices such as the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 sporting the app, as well as all Macs with a camera also compatible with it.  However the potential to replace Skype as the communication standard of choice is in fact that FaceTime is an open standard, meaning any application could use it, allowing communication between multiple different applications and platforms.  It is the adoption of the standard by other companies and the addition of text and voice only chat that will ultimately determine whether or not it becomes the de facto communications tool.

Major changes to Skype won’t happen overnight, but it’s highly likely many current users will reject the new direction of the service.  It will probably be 18 to 24 months before the more significant changes come into effect and the next major shift in Internet communications will happen.  For now it appears Microsoft have remembered that old saying.  If you can’t beat them, buy them.

Microsoft Skype

Will Skype just be squeezed in?

Written by atalukdar

May 13, 2011 at 10:01 am

A Change in the Wrong Direction

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Today is the day here in the UK, we vote for the system of voting to be used on future elections. Well, that’s not strictly speaking the case, as the vote is whether or not to accept one specific system, the Alternative Voting system. This would not only change the way we count the votes, but how we actually vote. Instead of voting for who you want or against the party you don’t want, voting is replaced with ranking candidates in order of preference, meaning you no longer need to choose between parties you like, only how much you like them.

Now if the problems with AV aren’t immediately apparent from the previous paragraph, allow me to elaborate. Firstly, AV doesn’t solve any of the problems of First Past The Post, the current system used by most of the world. Issues such as tactical voting will just change and adapt to fit the new system, political campaigns will see to that. AV is also much more complicated, adding even more bureaucracy to an already lengthy election process and will confuse many at the point of counting. AV supporters are quick to point out the fact that it’s not hard to rank candidates, but neglect to sum up the way a winner is decided, as it cannot be done in a sentence. In short, it’s more complicated and so there is more that can go wrong or be disputed.

However, the most compelling reason to vote against AV is actually highlighted by it’s own referendum. No one could fail to understand how to vote, it’s easy to campaign for or against and counting requires just two piles. Furthermore, every vote really does count. Not your second choice, not your third, forth or even fifth choice, but your actual choice. The reason so many don’t vote in elections, aside from the lies and hypocrisy in politics, is the feeling that it just won’t make a difference. With AV, the chances of your real choice making a difference are even smaller.

Two party politics would seem to represent a much easier, more focussed system and with increasing victories for fringe groups such as the Green party and the BNP, AV is the complete opposite to what this country needs. The Alternative Vote is exactly that, just an alternative and that is what the yes camp is relying on. Voting yes is simply voting for change from the current system, but a change in the wrong direction. Change for the sake of change doesn’t solve problems.

Vote NO in the AV referendum.

NO to AV

Written by atalukdar

May 5, 2011 at 12:00 am