Upload & Sell: Off
That Kotaku article started well, lost direction, made many mistakes, and eventually petered out – a bit like Sony itself, perhaps. The bit about Kageyama TVs was new to me (and interesting).
But I’m no closer to understanding why Japanese electronics giants are having such a hard time these days. If their prices are too high, was that not also the case twenty years ago, at the height of their dominance? They won on quality; why can’t they still win on quality? Or is quality – in the old-fashioned sense of reliability, picture quality, audio quality, and so on – no longer in demand?
I suppose the pertinent comparisons are with Apple and Samsung.
Apple I think I understand: its products are innovative, functional, beautiful, and durable – in other words, high quality. But Steve Jobs was reportedly obsessed with Sony products in the seventies. In the eighties he turned against Sony’s black, industrial-looking design aesthetic, in favour of a clean, Bauhaus-inspired, ‘high-tech’ look, and this proved highly prescient. Jonathan Ive put things in MoMA. Opinion-makers fell under Apple’s design spell, and people who didn’t understand design fell for the hype. The products largely worked well, and everyone likes that. Easy.
Samsung/Korea (one and the same?) is totally different. The philosophy seems to be to have a finger in every pie, make ‘good enough’ stuff with a high ratio of in-house tech, pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap. Behind the scenes there is a lot of research into core tech like batteries, LCD panels, semiconductors, etc. Also dodgy slush funds, nationalist subsidies, nepotism, etc. How can this messy mishmash beat the Japanese at their own game?