Sony has learnt much from previous unsuccessful products. The Sony MSX home computer, for example, did not attain a satisfactory level of success. But it did teach Sony development engineers valuable know-how that would be applied in later years. In effect, these engineers became living resources, representing latent power within Sony that did not exist in other AV companies. These young engineers who developed Sony's information processing technology in the past were eventually scattered throughout the Sony Group and active in many different areas thanks to their strong familiarity with computers.
The Sony Group gained outstanding software production capabilities from an early stage. Sony's music business had developed rapidly and toward the end of the 1980s was complemented by its newly acquired motion pictures business. Then with the launch of PlayStation in 1994, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. enjoyed explosive sales worldwide.
Sony had other strengths too, such as its superior AV technology incorporated into computer peripherals. The company had created a wide range of media for computers, including the 3.5-inch microfloppy, WO and MO disks, as well as the CD-ROM. Sony had developed these products by combining magnetic and optical technologies. Moreover, the spread of computers meant increased use of high-resolution Trinitron displays, and this also strengthened Sony's position.
Well aware of Sony's considerable strengths and its forward-looking attitude, Idei developed a clear path for Sony. He aimed to make a computer integrating AV and IT technologies that drew on Sony's technological assets -- a computer unique to Sony. The computer would offer basic functions common to all computers, but add personal entertainment value as a key feature. Ohga remarked that, "Only Sony could possibly hope to make a system integrating computer, communications and AV technology with entertainment content."
In November 1995, Sony announced the establishment of a long-term technology agreement with Intel Corp., the largest manufacturer of microprocessors for computers in the United States. Intel had an established track record in semiconductor and computer technology, while Sony's strengths were in AV hardware and software. By integrating their respective strengths, the two companies would create a new home-use computer. The dream of developing a market for AV products that complemented computer technology was at hand. An agreement was reached between Intel president Andrew Grove and Idei as the plan to launch the personal computer for home-use was announced. The PC would be introduced in the U.S. in autumn 1996, followed thereafter in Japan and Europe.
Sony's objective in establishing this collaborative agreement was not simply to enter the PC market. If Sony was going to sell computers, it was also going to have to restructure its AV business while establishing new marketing and customer service systems to stimulate and improve employee awareness. The catchphrase "Digital Dream Kids" was primarily designed to increase employee awareness of this new corporate direction.
On November 20, 1995, Idei received resounding applause after delivering a keynote speech entitled "Sony's Dreams are Sony's Challenges," at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in New York. Idei's speech described Sony's future business strategy to an audience composed of people in the television and communications industries throughout the world.
Since its founding, Sony has grown steadily with the Japanese economy. With its free wheeling spirit at the company's center, Sony began its fifty-year history with the development of audio and video technologies. As a leading manufacturer in the areas of communications and computer peripherals, Sony has entered an age in which digital technology is becoming widespread in a variety of industries worldwide. Sony's uniqueness lies in its ability to integrate traditional hardware expertise with software content. This continues to lead the company in new areas of business and growth.
On May 7, 1996, Sony celebrated its 50th anniversary. Company employees based in the Tokyo metropolitan area and their families, approximately 20,000 people in total, gathered at Tokyo Disneyland to celebrate the occasion -- known as the "Digital Dream Kids Day." During the 1996 Sony Management Conference held on May 24, at the New Takanawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo, Ohga and Idei expressed their heartfelt appreciation to the founders of Sony Corporation for their great ideals and leadership. At this conference, Ohga and Idei proceeded to set forth a clear vision of Sony's future direction.
Ohga and Idei presented three challenges: first, in Sony's principal business area of Electronics, to further strengthen Sony's leading position in AV while developing IT business; second, in the Entertainment business, to foster a deeper understanding among company management and employees of the entertainment industry so that Sony could secure a firm foothold; and third, to integrate the Electronics and Entertainment businesses to create totally new business opportunities. By tackling these challenges, Sony continues to evolve into a truly global, total entertainment company.
In addition, to further heighten Sony's greatest asset, the Sony brand name, four key words were outlined in the company management philosophy for all companies in the Sony Group. These words were: "unique," to ensure that Sony would always be an innovative company; "quality," reflecting emphasis on product quality; "speed," in the form of a framework that would enable the company to respond quickly and decisively to new market conditions; and "cost," reflecting the importance of competitive pricing once the other three conditions were fully met. For Sony, quality has always been an extremely important element of its business philosophy. And Sony continues to place increasing emphasis on quality issues throughout the Group.
At the 1996 Management Conference, Idei stressed that Sony would not only continue to offer innovative, high quality products, but also increase its role as a good corporate citizen throughout the world. As a result, he predicted that consumer trust in the Sony brand would continue to increase. Idei closed his speech by saying, "If all employees take a positive outlook, together we can make Sony's next fifty years very bright."
As it enters the 21st century, Sony welcomes the next fifty years of its history. No matter the era, Sony will be a company that offers new lifestyles to people through exciting hardware products and entertainment software.