Still Missing from ‘One Sony’ Strategy: An Identity

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REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

The press release about how Sony plans to save itself is a long, dull slog, but a perfectly logical one. Here’s the short version of the plan, known as “One Sony”:

  • As its core business, Sony will focus on gaming, digital imaging and mobile devices such as phones, tablets and laptops.
  • To turn its ailing TV business around, Sony is calling for more efficient engineering, fewer TV models and better image and audio quality.
  • Sony will try to expand in emerging markets such as India and Mexico.
  • The company wants to find new areas to grow, such as the medical sector, and will invest in new technologies such as 4K resolution displays.
  • Sony will take a hard look at its more troubled businesses–ones that are losing money, don’t have much chance at growth, and don’t have much to do with the company’s core focuses. Those businesses may be sold off or entered into partnerships with other companies.
  • As part of the reorganization, Sony will cut 10,000 jobs.

I’m not a business guru, but this seems like textbook stuff. Focus on the things that are successful and growing (gaming, imaging and mobile), try to save the thing that was once huge but is now a money loser (TVs), innovate so you don’t get left behind and consider dumping or distancing yourself from everything else.

What’s missing, however, is an identity. Does Sony still want to be the premium, iconic brand that was in the heyday of the Walkman, or does the company acknowledge those days are over, and that it needs to become something else? Or more importantly: In an industry increasingly dominated by software and services, how can Sony still be important?

Those aren’t easy questions to answer, and I’m certainly in no position to dictate what kind of company Sony should become. But as the company tries to redefine itself, some sense of the big picture seems crucial. I can’t tell whether Sony sees it.

(MORE: Sony to Cut 10,000 Jobs, Focus on TV)