: a bone fide star in the tech community.
The real problem isn’t Hirai. It’s that Sony died years ago. The company goes through the motions and churns out new music players, flat-screen televisions, smartphones, video-game players, but who cares? With each ho-hum product, Sony makes us nostalgic for the powerhouse that changed the world with the Walkman. It’s been 12 years since Steve Jobs ushered in a new revolution with Apple’s iPod, and Sony still hasn’t come out with a globally-viable competitor, never mind a rival to the iPhone or iPad. The remarkable thing is that Sony has what Apple sorely lacks: vast libraries of content, both music and films. And still Sony let Samsung, too, steal away its franchise. Its credit rating is spiraling toward junk.
What Sony and many investors don’t get is that it’s no longer an electronics company. Hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb of New York-based Third Point somehow missed that fact in May when he called on Sony to dump large chunks of its entertainment business and focus on electronics. Sony should be doing the opposite. It is to electronics what Microsoft is to the computer industry: a pulseless shell of its once-dynamic self.
All this explains why word of the SmartWig is such a buzz killer, not to mention potentially creepy. Japanese police are busy enough now chasing middle-age men sneaking naughty photos of schoolgirls. Yeah, a hairpiece camera will REALLY help that effort.
The bigger issue is what this says about Sony’s mindset. Sony needs to wow us all over again — to shock the world with a game-changer that has the folks at Apple, Samsung and Wired magazine huddled around TVs (not Sony’s, of course) taking in breathless news reports about its next revolutionary idea. Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but all SmartWig may do is win an Ig Nobel.