Sir Howard Stringer has said that some products and divisions of Sony are not strategic. They will be scaled down, even disposed of, as he tries to bring Sony back to former eminence in the world of electronic entertainment.
What is the status of storage at Sony? Its Blu-ray post-DVD format is struggling to become a standard with the spectre of Betamax always in the background.
Its AIT and S-AIT helical tape formats are likewise struggling. IDC figures show VXA growing market share in the entry level tape market and LTO growing share in the mid-range or super tape market: that's the AIT and S-AIT markets respectively. In other words, if IDC is to be believed, they are falling behind.
S-AIT is making progress in the broadcast/media market, a traditional Sony strength for its PetaSite libraries where the format's small size and high capacity help. But is this niche success enough to make up for lack lustre sales elsewhere?
Apart from tape products Sony builds NAS boxes and DVD burners. Both of these product areas have been commoditised. Perhaps tellingly the last positive press comment about its NAS boxes featured on Sony's web site is back in 2003.
Sony has also got its Micro Vault Pro, a handy, USB-connect device with a hard drive inside, that holds 5GB of data. It's neat and small but possibly just not that neat enough for mass sales.
It will take some weeks before Sony is able to say what the status of its storage division is. NAS could be let go. Can AIT succeed against VXA and S-AIT against LTO? Blu-ray is probably safe for the time being because of its PlayStation role. DVD burning is short term surely. What we're left thinking is that each product category here is just too small on its own. With the exception of Blu-ray they don't have Sony corporate capital invested in them. They look vulnerable.
Sony's business strategists will be reading the runes and trying to see what they say. So, I dareseay, will be many customers.
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