Chico Harlan, reporting for The Washington Post:
The pace of problems is accelerating. Sony hasn’t made a profit in four years. Panasonic has lost money in three of the past four. Along with Sharp, the companies’ combined market value, according to Bloomberg, is $32 billion — making them one-fifth the value of Samsung and one-twentieth the value of Apple.
The smartphone angle here is obvious. So is the pricing squeeze angle. Not-so-obvious: the complete and utter failure of each of these companies to understand the importance of software tying in with hardware.
Swimming in a sea of red, Panasonic is the bloodiest yet. A $10.2 billion annual loss. That’s not just bad, it’s insanely bad.
But again, they’re hardly alone. Reports Tim Kelly and Yoko Kubota for Reuters:
Together, Panasonic, Sony and Sharp Corp expect to lose $17 billion this year, highlighting the savaging of Japan’s electronics industry by foreign rivals led by South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, weak demand and a strong yen.
$17 billion. And the underlying subtext here is that all are (were) key players in the television set industry. The low-margins and competition finally caught up to these guys. To some, this will raise more questions about Apple entering the industry. But to me, this signals yet again that they need to enter it. The system is in disarray. Ripe for disruption.