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Sony, Too

Athima Chansanchai, reporting for Gadgetbox:

Sony’s Kate Dugan admitted that despite the natural disasters in Japan that affected production and shipment of its digital cameras, “true decline” has set in for digital cameras, in which sales are down 20 percent, the first time losses have hit in the double digits. The exodus is most pronounced amongst entry level users, who have turned to their phones as their all-in-one must-have gadget.

Dugan said that meant Sony has to focus on things phones can’t achieve, such as “high optical zoom, low light shooting, full HD video.” The way the company sees it, phones are fine to shoot food on the fly, but for “important moments should go to cameras.”

Compare and contrast Sony’s approach to dealing with the decline in point-and-shoot camera sales with Apple’s approach to the decline in iPod sales. Apple is skating to where the puck is heading; Sony is skating to where the puck is at the moment. Apple executives have long been on the record that the company is OK with iPod sales being cannibalized by smartphones — so long as they are Apple’s own smartphones. That’s worked out well for Apple, because the iPhone is now far more popular and profitable than the iPod ever was. They didn’t hesitate in 2007 to make the first iPhone, in Steve Jobs’s own words, “the best iPod ever” too.

Sony makes camera phones, too. But their phones are not as popular as their cameras were. (Could be worse. Consider, say, Canon and Nikon, whose point-and-shoot camera sales are in decline but neither of which even make smartphones.) Sony should no more abandon the point-and-shoot camera market than Apple should abandon the music-playing iPod market, but Sony has to recognize that it’s a business in decline and that the future is in putting better cameras into phones.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012