Sony’s (SNE) Revival Fails (AAPL)(MSFT)

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Once people stopped buying the Walkmen and PlayStations and the consumers’ attention moved to the Apple (AAPL) iPod and Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox, Sony may have gone beyond its prime to such as extent that it could not recover.

The Japanese firm decided to mount a comeback, but now that has fallen apart.

Sir Howard Stringer was brought in to make Sony more competitive. He was the first non-Japanese to run the company. As an "outsider" he might stand a chance of tearing up the old bureaucracy at Sony and making the firm an innovator again.

The process got off to a slow start. Stringer could not get his engineers to put out popular products. Sony sank to being an LCD TV manufacturer and a movie studio in a competitive content environment. Sony never found its iPod or Wii. At the core of Sony’s revitalization was a vacuum

Sony finally gave up the ghost, cutting 8,000 people in the hope of saving $1 billion a year in expenses.That side of the ledger can probably be fixed. The revenue side is still in trouble with no improvements in any of the company’s businesses in a position to fix it.

Sony’s trouble now is not how many people it employs. It is how many people the company has who can mount a drive to bring innovative products to market. Right now, the number is zero.

Douglas A. McIntyre