Sony (NYSE:SNE) faced challenges even when the economy was going gangbusters. Now, amid a difficult consumer climate, the electronics behemoth has handed investors some nasty quarterly results and a bleak view for the year. Investors, beware. 

Sony's net income in its fiscal first quarter fell by nearly half, to 35 billion yen, the equivalent of $325.4 million in U.S. dollars, or $0.31 per share. Sales increased 0.1%, or 8% on a local currency basis.

The strong yen hurt Sony's results, as did weakness in some of its segments. For example, Sony's motion picture segment's sales dropped 31%; the quarter lacked a huge hit like last year's Spider-Man 3. The Sony Ericsson joint venture was a drag as well, as its cell phones underperformed. Other weak spots included the Vaio computer, Sony's music unit (shared with Bertelsmann), and digital cameras.

On a brighter note, Sony's games segment is now profitable, and hardware sales of PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Portable picked up despite heated competition from Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox. However, game software sales faltered because of a decrease in PlayStation 2 game sales.

I've been bearish on Sony for years, for many reasons. It's a massive conglomerate, which makes it confusing, and investors who aren't comfortable number-crunching yen face an instant hurdle in analyzing this Japanese business.

Furthermore, Sony has often shown an unpleasant tendency toward utter corporate cluelessness, irritating consumers and threatening its brand. Whether it's the Sony BMG arm strong-arming music fans (and sometimes depositing rootkits onto computers without users' knowledge) or employing fake blogs as marketing techniques, the company's often seemed to go out of its way to make itself odious to customers.   

If you're looking for a company to invest in with exposure to must-have electronics and media, how about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)? It has great products, its business is less complicated, and while it may not be perfect, it also doesn't have the reputation for completely alienating its customers. (In fact, it's attracted plenty of devoted cultists over the years.) Apple's PEG ratio of 0.95 even implies it's trading at quite a reasonable price.

Sony faces an uphill climb against still economic headwinds. I think there are better stock deals out there, for companies facing fewer challenges to drum up growth.

Apple and Nintendo are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.  

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.