Sony Corporation of America lets you spin, win, and grin. As the US arm of Japan's Sony, it makes music, movies, and TV shows, as well as the products that bring them to life. Its electronics include TVs, DVD and MP3 players, digital cameras, camcorders, computers, CD players, and car audio items. Its PlayStation gaming system jockeys for position among Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's Xbox game consoles. The firm also peddles PlayStation games. Sony's musical artists range from classical to gospel to hip-hop. Film and TV offerings include box office heavyweights (2012 and Michael Jackson's This Is It) and popular game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! Sony Music Entertainment is a wholly-owned subsidiary.
It hasn't been all fun and games at Sony's Japanese parent. As Sony Corp. is busy retooling its stodgy image and its global operations, Sony Corporation of America (SCA) has maintained its momentum through a combination of savvy product launches, strategic agreements, and acquisitions. Business in the US accounted for 22% of its parent's 2010 revenue, down slightly the previous year.
With a majority of Sony's global sales coming from electronics, SCA has been tapping the consumer electronics market for growth. In North America, SCA has achieved a 40% market share in Blu-ray Disc players with its sales of 2.2 million units. And despite a looming global recession, SCA continues to launch new products.
TVs generate the most revenue for the subsidiary. To cut costs, Sony buys its TVs from Samsung through a partnership. In July 2009, Sony also agreed to fund Sharp's LCD production facility. As a result, the two formed a joint venture company -- called Sharp Display Products (SDP) -- to make and sell large-sized LCD panels and modules. SPD kick-started operations at its plant in Sakai City in 2009. (Sharp holds a two-thirds stake in SDP.) To create more efficiencies for Sony Corporation of America, Sony shed its 90% stake in Sony Baja California, its main TV factory in North America located in Tijuana, Mexico. Hon Hai Precision Industry, based in Taiwan, took over ownership of the operation in 2010.
In recent years, Sony has been focused on fine-tuning its music and movies ventures to ensure future profits. In a high-profile, high-dollar deal, SCA is leading a group of investors, including the Estate of Michael Jackson, David Geffen, and the Blackstone Group, to acquire EMI Music Publishing for $2.2 billion from owner Citigroup. Following the sale, which requires regulatory approval, Sony/ATV Music Publishing will oversee EMI Music Publishing on the investor group's behalf. (Sony/ATV Music Publishing is co-owned by subsidiaries of SCA and trusts formed by the Estate of Michael Jackson.)
After continuing declines in recorded music sales, Sony merged its music unit (also named Sony Music Entertainment) with BMG. The resulting entity, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, was jointly owned and held the #2 spot among music companies (after Universal Music). In October 2008, however, the two companies ended their partnership amid months of speculation that Bertelsmann wanted to exit the music business. Parent company Sony acquired Bertelsmann's 50% stake in Sony BMG for some $1.2 billion and renamed the business to its previous name, Sony Music Entertainment.
In response to the continued steep decline in CD sales, the firm in 2011 is closing a CD manufacturing plant in New Jersey and laying off about 300 employees. The plant's operations will be moved to another Sony-owned facility in Indiana, which makes DVD and Blu-ray discs.
And Sony Connect, the company's online music service, was launched to minimize Internet music piracy. In 2008 the company acquired music recognition technology company Gracenote for $260 million. (As a subsidiary of Sony, Gracenote continues to operate separately and develop new technologies. Gracenote's customers include Apple iTunes and Music Jukebox.)
Sony has refocused its approach to selling computers by appealing primarily to business customers (mostly small and medium-sized companies), rather than targeting consumers. As part of this strategy, Sony has offered its Vaio PC loaded with Microsoft's Windows XP Professional software.
The manufacturer has grown its retail efforts by adding QUALIA shops to its Sony Style concept. Its Sony QUALIA stores feature concierge service for one-on-one assistance while shopping its QUALIA line of electronics, including LCD TVs, home theater systems, and stealth digital still cameras. Sony bowed another QUALIA inside of the Sony Style store in Las Vegas to add to its New York location.