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Sony Reader Unlikely to Be Affected by Upcoming Job Cuts

April 9th, 2012 by · 4 Comments · hardware news

There’s scary news in the gadget world today as Sony announces plans to cut 10 thousand workers, or about 6% of its global workforce. Nikkei broke the story last night, and the IBTimes elaborated on the story.

Sony will reportedly sell off its chemical products division and cut about 3,000 workers. The Tokyo-based company also looks to make cuts within its small and midsize LCD operations; in all likelihood, this move is intended for Sony to better compete with Samsung, which is the world’s No. 1 supplier of TVs and flat screen panels. It wasn’t clear if Sony would be cutting these jobs in Japan, overseas, or both.

There’s no mention of the consumer products (like Sony’s new tablets or the Sony Reader). Naturally I was concerned about the news, so I followed up with my contact at Sony. Here’s what I was told:

We have not announced a new eReader model yet, however Sony remains committed to the Reader category.

I’ve been concerned about the Sony Reader since, well, since Sony released the x50 models back in 2010.  Sony had been consistently out-innovated be virtually everyone in the market,  and that now includes several no name companies who have since grown to be (at a minimum) decent hardware providers.

TBH, I’m surprised that today’s news doesn’t include the Sony Reader. But I guess it slipped by. Perhaps it’s not costly enough to be worth cutting. On the other hand, I’m beginning to wonder if Sony regards the tablets and ereaders as prestige projects. They could be valued more for their appearance than their profitability.

image by arthit

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • fjtorres

    Sony doesn’t often drop zombie product lines, even if it means bleeding red ink. Especially in markets they helped launch. For example, note how they keep cranking out Walkman music players, still looking for a magic formula that will make them relevant again. Or, look how they’re bleeding the company to death trying to stay in the TV business with me-too products.
    As long as they have brand loyalty, especially in Europe, they’ll keep shuffling along like the walking dead waiting for a miracle or to expend the last of their brand equity.

    Simply put, Sony is a company unwilling to let go of their dead past and focus solely on the parts of the company that still work.

    • Mike Cane

      Aibo and Rolly (what that’s its name?) were cut. Sony is not shy when it comes to ending things — witness the old CLIE too — but it’s lost its way finding the future.

  • Richard Adin

    Nate, you wrote: “Sony had been consistently out-innovated be virtually everyone in the market. . . .” Don’t you have this backwards a bit? When Sony released the x50 line, it was way ahead of the competition. Who else, for example, had a comparable touchscreen? Sony’s problem has been less the quality of the hardware than its marketing and pricing strategies. I would agree that the T1 shook no market, but the x50s were market leaders in terms of hardware, falling flat because of high price and exceedingly poor marketing. However, I, for one, have no regrets about having bought my 950 at the full price of $299. I use it everyday and love its quality feel. My wife is still using daily my Sony 505, which also was bought at the original full price of $299 4.5 years ago. I offered to buy her a new reader, but she declined. She wants to read on the device and the 505 still does an excellent job of that.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to read from you that Sony was behind the curve when it didn’t offer wireless access on its 505. We’ve had that discussion any number of times and the bottom line is and remains how valuable is wireless to the individual. (Even today, I buy most of my book shopping using my desktop computer and then sideloading. It just isn’t a problem and assures that I have a copy on my hard drive.) But that deficit was cured with the x00 models and x50 models had wireless, advanced touchscreen, and eInk Pearl — months before the Nook, Kobo, or Kindle. Sony has problems but let’s give it credit where it is due credit and the x50 hardware is due credit.

    • Nate Hoffelder

      I don’t see anything about the x50 line that was innovative other than the touch screen tech, and a Taiwan ereader was the first to use it. Also, it was just an incremental improvement over the previous touchscreen equipped Sony Readers, so it hardly qualifies as innovative.

      Now, you might say that the annotations were ahead of their time. They were, back when Sony introduced them in 2009. But how has Sony innovated since then?

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