Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rough patch for Sony @ Japan Times

Sony Corp., which has built its fame through a global brand presence and innovative products, appears to be facing a difficult time. The Sony group's operating profit in the six-month period through September nosedived by 90.9 percent from a year before to 6.22 billion yen, although sales were up 9.7 percent to 3.6 trillion yen.

Behind this are the massive global recalls of its defective lithium-ion battery packs for laptop computers; a delay in launching the PlayStation 3 (a next-generation video-game console) due to problems with mass-production of the machine's Blu-ray disc drive; and a price cut on the PS3 in Japan to compete with Nintendo Co., its rival in the video-game machine business.

The battery recalls and the delay in the production of the Blu-ray disc drive could pique concern about Sony's in-house ability to develop mainstay, state-of-the-art technology. It is hoped that the company will mobilize its experience, wisdom and knowledge to overcome its technology-related problems and develop new hit products that will enchant consumers.

The lithium-ion battery packs caused lap-top overheating or short-circuiting problems. It is thought that microscopic nickel particles trapped inside during the manufacturing process caused the problems. When Dell recalled Sony battery packs used in its laptop computers in December 2005, Sony put forward the theory that the computers themselves were responsible for the problems. This suspicion apparently delayed an investigation and response by Sony.

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