Reality caught up with troubled Sony
Even though Sony is a diversified entertainment conglomerate with various stakes in music, movies, and electronics, the company had come to rely heavily on the success of its video game business. That was fine when times were great on that front. But take fiscal 2002 as a classic example of why it became a problem: Video games back then accounted for the majority of the company's operating profits despite generating just 12% of its sales.
Sony remains the market leader in consoles, well ahead of rivals Microsoft
The company does, however, have a noteworthy ace up its sleeve. Later this month, it will roll out its PlayStation Portable handheld gaming and entertainment system. Nintendo has ruled the portable market the way Sony has on the console front for years. That means the PSP faces an uphill battle, though you have to admire the new system's multimedia features, which include the ability to play music and movies, the latter in a proprietary format. Sure, when you think of Sony and proprietary video formats, Betamax has to spring to mind. But Sony has something that Nintendo doesn't have on that front -- access to content. In fact, Sony will be shipping its first batch of PSPs stateside with a free copy of Spider-Man 2, the property licensed from Marvel
That's why the timing of the executive shuffle couldn't be any worse for Sony. Yes, the numbers dictated change, and the company has had to go through some painful restructuring. But it would have made more sense to see how the PSP pans out for the company -- and its investors -- before making these moves. Sony needs to stay focused on the marketing task at hand.
This isn't a game, you know.
More related content on the Sony PSP:
- Get up to speed on the PSP.
- Sony has high hopes for its grown-up handheld.
- The PSP stacks up well against the Nintendo DS.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does have a Nintendo DS lying around the house -- though his kids rarely give him the chance to check it out. He may have to buy a PSP and keep it out of their reach. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.