Sony is back trying to flog expensive TV’s; the only problem is the bulk of their TV’s are not made by Sony and their brand is no longer a major force when compared to the likes of Samsung and LG, even Chinese brand Hisense is outselling Sony TV’s in the Australian market.
At JB Hi Fi a new release Sony 75” Ultra High Definition is being offered for $7,648, this is discounted down from $8,998. A similar LG 75” TV can be purchased for $5,948 a difference of $1,700, a similar Samsung model is $5,523.
The big difference is that both Samsung and LG manufacturer their own premium TV’s while Sony who design their TV’s must work with third party component and TV manufacturers to make their offerings because they sold or closed their TV manufacturing operations.
Sony`s bleeding television business has not made a profit for nearly a decade and their new top end OLED TV is basically a Sony designed TV wrapped around an LG manufactured OLED TV panel.
More than a decade ago this brand dominated in the CRT TV market, then in the early 2000’s, Sony began to lose its competitive edge. Reluctant to let go or even get out of their CRT business the Company struggled to deliver flat panel TV’s, they even struggled to decide whether they would go with plasma or LCD models.
They eventually cut a deal with Samsung in what was billed as a 50/50 joint venture with the Korean manufacturer to make plasma TV’s, the deal was in fact a 49% Sony and 51% Samsung deal that resulted in Sony accusing Samsung of giving priority to their panels as opposed to Sony.
This was a period when Samsung moved to undercut its higher-priced TVs and stereos.
As Sony struggled to get a foothold in the new flat panel TV market, Apple was stripping away their lucrative Walkman MP3 player market with their new iPods.
Sony moved to investing in Insurance and movie studio’s both business struggled.
In Australia Sony management got offended when SmartHouse and ChannelNews dared to suggest the big Japanese Company was in trouble.
They tried desperately to shut down our stories about their failures to the extent that they moved to try and discredit our reputation. This backfired when we revealed that the Australian Company was in serious trouble.
Back in 2010 we exclusively revealed that Sony Australia was involved in a dispute with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for around A$53 million of back taxes and penalties.
At the time Sony was hovering between #1 and 2 in the Australian TV market, we then revealed that this dispute which related in part to the transfer pricing of Sony TV’s in Australia had resulted in the local subsidiary being hit for the full $53M that was in dispute.
They were fined $32 million for back tax avoidance and $21 million was in penalties and interest after an ATO investigation into the transfer pricing of Sony goods including TV’s into Australia.
Shortly after we revealed the ATO ruling the CEO of Sony Australia quit along with the Chief Financial Officer.
Sony Singapore then moved to take over all back-office operations at the Australian subsidiary.
Globally Kazuo “Kaz” Hirai the CEO of Sony has refused to sell their struggling TV business despite it costing the Company billions in losses.
Today he claims that Sony’s focus is on producing fewer models with an eye on the higher-end market.
In Australia, it appears that Sony’s strategy is based around price gouging and using a tired old TV brand name to try and justify their place in the TV market with TV’s that are not even made by Sony.
“(We) have changed our strategy to go after profitability rather than focus on the size of the business,” Hirai said, referring to the TV unit.
“Now the challenge is to stay in the black.”
In recent years, Sony has sold off a string of assets, including the VAIO laptop business and a unit that made rechargeable lithium ion batteries.
Smartphone components such as camera sensors and their top-selling PlayStation 4 games console have boosted its bottom line. Their smartphone business is struggling and like their TV business is languishing in the bottom end of the market.
Recently Sony took a nearly $1 billion write-down at its movie unit as Sony Pictures` woes included box-office disappointments such as a reboot of the Eighties classic “Ghostbusters” with an all-female cast and “Inferno”, a sequel to the “Da Vinci Code”.
The movie business is “a pressing issue for Sony”, Hirai told reporters recently.
In Australia Sony has resorted to only letting selective journalists review their new TV products.
These “Guest of Sony” journalists predominantly work on publications that Sony often wines and dines with fully paid for trips overseas.
SmartHouse has been offered a review of a Sony TV.