Will Sony Ever Stage A Comeback?

Earlier this week, I was talking to a friend about an HDTV he was planning to buy. He told me that he went down to Best Buy and looked over all the products the store had on display. After talking to a salesperson and looking at the pictures of all the televisions, he decided on a 55-inch Sony LCD.

I was somewhat surprised by the decision. Although Sony delivers relatively nice HDTVs, it's by no means a leader in that market. As far as I'm concerned, consumers would be far happier with a Panasonic plasma or an LCD option from Vizio or Samsung. Whenever I'm asked for my recommendations on televisions, I never mention a Sony product.

However, my friend's decision to buy a Sony set got me thinking. I remember a time when Sony was arguably the most innovative and quality-conscious company competing for the consumer's dollar. But as of late, I haven't seen much of that when it comes to the firm's products in the living room.

As mentioned, I'm not too keen on Sony televisions. And anyone with the company's line of Blu-ray players and home theater systems will tell you that there are better options at cheaper prices out there. Even the PlayStation 3 has fallen short. That device, while high-powered and nice-looking, just doesn't offer the same level of gameplay that I'll find in my Xbox 360. And I'm willing to bet that those who play first-person shooters often would agree with me.

[aquote]I remember when Sony was arguably the most innovative and quality-conscious company[/aquote]

What has happened to Sony? The company was once at the top, or at least near to the top, in every electronics category that mattered. But nowadays, it's falling short in so many ways that the number of Sony products I actually recommend to friends and family is dwindling.

For its part, Sony seems to be trying to turn things around. The company is doing its best to get people to pick up the PlayStation 3, and the firm recently said that it wouldn't even consider stopping the production of its televisions, even though sales haven't been where they could be.

But as I look at the marketplace and consider where the industry seems to be moving, it appears that Sony has been left out of the equation. Gone are the days when just about everyone will immediately turn to Sony products because it's the brand they know and trust. Nowadays, people are willing to try new things. And in the process, Sony, the old default choice, is being left behind.

That said, I don't really have a recipe for Sony to return to greatness. The company has seemingly lost its way on innovation, and firms like Apple and Samsung are far more likely to attract customer attention. Perhaps the PlayStation 4 is the way for Sony to reestablish itself in the living room, but even then, I'm not sure if that device will sell all that well.

Is this the beginning of the end for Sony? I don't think so. The company's brand still has some life left in it and Sony's products are still solid. But I do think something drastic needs to be done. If it isn't, Sony's influence in the market might become even more marginalized.