Sony vs. Apple: Sony Takes It Up a Notch

Sony has had execution issues that have made Rob Enderle doubt it will ever step up to its potential.

Sony is the closest thing the Windows world has to an Apple Computer. It is also the company that should be the natural winner when it comes to the upcoming convergence in the consumer electronics space. Unfortunately, Sony has had execution issues that have made me doubt it will ever step up to its potential.

That may have changed. The other day, when I sat down with Sony to look at their new fall laptop and desktop lines, I saw a new Sony—one that should keep Steve Jobs up at night. It probably wont, but Ill get to this later. Now, until Sony announces the new products, I cant give you any details, no matter how much you beg. I will say that what I saw indicates that Sony is coming back, and I can chat a bit on the why behind this.

Sonys Ugly Past: For a long while, the design direction for Sony PCs has come from Japan. That direction has, for the North American and European markets, been ugly and inconsistent.

That is not to say they havent had good products. Its just that the good products have been overshadowed by some really bad ones over the last several years. Sony, like Apple, is known for sharp designs. Yet a number of Sonys designs have looked more like they were designed by the aircraft carrier division of the U.S. government. I actually suggested one have air horns put on it to complete the look.

Sonys Back On Track: But that is about to change. The reason is that Sony has shifted responsibility for product selection and planning for the U.S. market to the United States. This is similar to what Toyota did nearly a decade ago to better address the non-Asian market. Based on my read of Sonys new offerings, it will have the same positive impact with Sony as it had on Toyota.

Next page: What were those Sony designers thinking?