Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Nice summary and a question on Marc's Voice about whether Sony is the answer to everything.

Sony may be the one to change all this. They certainly have the most to gain - even more than us plain old customers. What makes it REALLY interesting is that they own a label and studio. Which side are they on?
Sony is like a an ecology of competing components. Everyone is very proud of Sony and there is definitely a Sony DNA that keeps it all together, but it is not dictated top-down as you would imagine. Idei-san is almost like a coach, I think. In the Newsweek article, Idei comments on Kutaragi:
Kutaragi is the perfect example of Sony old and new. A fiercely independent engineering visionary, he created PS1 and 2 - and ran his division with cavalier disregard for the suits at headquarters. "He's kind of a symbol for Sony, how the rule breaker can survive with the rule maker," says Idei, who has tried to make Kutaragi more of a team player by giving him broader responsibility. "And now," says Idei, "the rule breaker has become the rule maker."
Idei-san definitely provides a vision a creates rules that guide the company, but it's the people like Kutaragi's that break that rules that create the breakthroughs at Sony. Sony is very good at allowing competing agendas to co-exist because of their structure. I think that where they suffer is that it's hard to connect a bunch of competing parts. Now that connectivity is the name of the game, Idei-san is changing the company to try to preserve the the Sony spirit of invention and leadership, but to network everything. What's really interesting to me about this process is that Sony is a microcosm of the basic software, standards and architecture issues that the world has.

So to answer Marc's question... They're on all sides. When the answer becomes clear, they will obviously lean towards that direction, but while the jury is still out in their minds, I think they will let competing business units compete. And they can compete harder because they are bonded together with the Sony DNA and there is constant communication at the executive level.

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Sony DNA? What is that?

Are you sure you are not just following the image carefully created by Sony PR?

Maybe Sony is a rather normal Japanese company. Are their products better than other companies', or is just the branding better? Is Sony more profitable than, say GE, IBM? Is their broad strategy for real, or is it an excuse for allowing most of Sony to be unprofitable? Is the internal competition planned, or is it just because of internal politics?