Will Apple Be the Death of Sony?

We're now apparently about a month away from the official launch of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) new iPhone.

The lost/stolen prototype may steal some of the Cupertino thunder, but at least the one thing that everyone can agree on is that the fourth generation of Apple's popular smartphone is going to pack some serious camera upgrades.

There's the built-in flash and improved five-megapixel camera. MacRumors.com is also reporting that the new mobile operating system will support high-def video at 720p.

In other words, Apple may be about to take a serious bite out of the entry-level digital camera market. This is bad news for Cisco's (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) Flip and Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) Webby. The front and back cameras -- ripe for video chat and videoconferencing -- would probably dent Logitech (Nasdaq: LOGI  ) as well.

It's also pretty much a foregone conclusion that Apple's next iPod touch update will include a camera, because even the cheaper Apple nano is equipped with one.

Naturally, this may hurt plenty of camera companies, but let's bring up Sony again.

Poor Sony. It seems as if everywhere Apple points, Sony happens to be in the line of fire.

  • Apple's iTunes offers digital video downloads that sidestep the need for optical discs. Sony sells DVD and Blu-ray players.
  • Apple's iPhone and iPod touch -- and now iPad -- play thousands of free or dirt cheap video games. Sony's PlayStation3 console and PSP handheld require brisk software sales of licensed titles.
  • Apple's monitors continue to get bigger, and even the iPad is a worthy platform for digital video. Sony sells Bravia TVs.
  • Apple's iBookstore program for the iPad is winning critical praise for its colorful content. Sony's e-book reader was already having a hard time against Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) Kindle.

Life would be so much easier for Sony if Apple didn't exist. Unfortunately, it does -- and that seems to threaten Sony's existence at every evolutionary turn.

Will Apple really be the end of Sony? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Apple and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Logitech is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a write-covered-calls position on Logitech. The Fool owns shares of Logitech. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been an Apple fan for ages, but he has plenty of Sony appliances around the home as well. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2010, at 1:17 PM, pablue wrote:

    If Sony dies, then the consumer (or lack there of) will be the death of Sony. Either because they did not innovate enough, read the market wrong, or for any other reason just did not appeal to the consumer.

    All a company can do is try to provide a service, the consumer decides who lives and who dies.

  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2010, at 2:28 PM, demodave wrote:

    I hope Sony doesn't die from Apple overdose, since I really do like their video hardware and have similarly liked their audio stuff in the past. It's true though that iTunes changes how I listen to music. I own Apple hardware and stock and plenty of Sony hardware, but no Sony stock. Can you guys knock it down a bit, please? ;)

  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2010, at 3:02 PM, 42theflush wrote:

    Sony...who cares?

    Hi, I'm cheap and I"m a PC.......but a 3G enable iPod touch would be the perfect accompaniment to my Tracfone.

  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2010, at 7:07 PM, RussellL wrote:

    How can anyone, except a fanboi, compare Apple to Sony?

    Sure video downloads from iTunes eliminates the need for optical discs, but who do you think are making those videos, Sony Pictures. Sony also owns the record companies. Sony is making money on every download.

    The games on Apple devices are nowhere near as entertaining or immersive as the ones available on the PS3 or the PSP. Apple devices are for casual gamers or for people who want something to do while sitting on the toilet.

    The largest Apple monitor is 30". It has been that way since it was first introduced in June 2004.

    6yr old design. Hardly a threat to ANY display maker.

    Sony also makes home & car audio equipment, video equipment, projectors, broadcast cameras, microscope cameras, medical equipment...

    There is simply no comparison.

  • Report this Comment On May 06, 2010, at 11:37 PM, aucifer wrote:

    Lets not forget while the iphone may be winning here in the U.S its a whole different story in japan, where sony HQ are at, and not forgeting that over in japan, the japs have better phones than the crapy iphone.

    itunes in japan arent the biggest source of digital download for music btw.

    everything else Russelllee pointed out.

  • Report this Comment On May 08, 2010, at 8:25 AM, khaledmrd wrote:

    I think Apple will face real competition in the years to come, it is all about Mobile OS & Software and online services which Microsoft failed to deliver in big way in the Past to compete seriously with Apple.

    Now there is Google Android OS and On-line capabilities and that will means more competition for Apple and Sony could capitalize on it.

    even for Apple here comes HP after the Palm & Web OS acquisition

  • Report this Comment On May 08, 2010, at 11:12 AM, cfranklin88 wrote:

    I doubt it. Sony has a monopoly on the market for business production such as movie equipment.

    Sony also has its own Playstation Store which sells movie downloads and in Hi Def format. You can buy and watch it on your Hi Def Bravia and on your Vaio Laptops and even your PSP

    Sony has released the Ericsson Xperia X10 which has an 8 megapixel camera. It also comes with Google Android 2.1 installed.

    Man before dissing them you should do your research. They arent going anywhere anytime soon.

    They also own some of the best movie franchises, 007, Spiderman, Hancock, and much more.

    You can even buy movies off Amazon Video on Demand right on your Bravia television.

    Sony's problem is they dont have the marketing power like apple.

  • Report this Comment On May 08, 2010, at 5:18 PM, viyer00 wrote:

    I like Sony TVs, but they are overpriced as they use the same panels as Samsungs, which are always cheaper. I even have a Sony Reader (but I got it for free and I would never have purchased it with my own free will) and know all the horrors that come with the Sony Reader store, software and general setup. AAPL gets how to make things easy for a consumer to use, and there is incredible value to that in high tech products. I am an extremely advanced user and I find most Sony software clunky, I imagine the average person doesnt even bother.

    Sony needs to restructure in some fundamental ways and look to making things easy for the consumer. If they are going to charge a markup compared to other brands, it has to come with some justification. AAPL's justification is that its products are easier to use and more reliable. And people just gobble that up.

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