Billion dollar blame

Some do it quick, some do it with conviction, some take a life time and some don’t experience it at all. You might want to guess on what naughtiness I am talking about. It is simple negative profit in a firm. Some seem clear, some are to be expected and some are just plain ignorant.

We could rephrase them as the alphabet, like A is for Airline that’s lost in the queue; B is for banks, who lost more than a few. But then, that nursery rhyme would get boring real quick. The issue is not Tesco, not as we read in Bloomberg: ‘Bank of America Lost $2.7 Billion in a Maze of Accounting‘, it is simple overreaching. First the car industry, now the mobile industry is getting hammered. It would be fine to just blame Apple, who does have a stake in this, but in the end the true culprit is what I call ‘lack of vision‘.

Sony is downgrading its profits to far below zero. It is projecting a loss of 2,140,000,000 at the end of the current financial year. So we are talking about a loss so big, I personally believe is that those ‘idea-illogicals’ are still with their heads in the pre-recession era, they keep on believing that the old ways still work. Guess what! That time is gone, the financial institutions and banks changed that game forever.

The electronics empire initially forecast a $466 million net loss by the end of the current financial year, but has now informed investors that the projected loss has been revised to $2.14 billion. That is the budget for a small nation, so how is Sony still around? Well, that is not about that part of the equation, but it is an interesting question to consider for the future. The biggest issue is with their mobiles and we should wonder how they are currently surviving. I have nothing against Sony mobiles, I have had Nokia mobiles, I have Sony mobiles and mobiles from Ericsson and currently I use a Motorola. The entire mobile market is plummeting, Apple is doing fine, but overall they are likely to see a peaking of profits too.

Why?

Well, like those in the car industry, the people behind them are just not too clued in. They listen to ‘experts’, ‘analysts’ and from there they think that they comprehend their customers. They get market research, get 1000-2000 responses, weigh the hell out of the data and they consider that they have the knowledge.

Guess what, it does not work that way!

True investigation takes more, takes longer and takes actual preparation. Some half-baked set-up, which is quickly designed on Monday, live on Tuesday, data collected up to Thursday and reporting on Friday can work for some parts to get a general idea, but in the end, you will not get the ACTUAL wisdom you need. And guess what, it is not just Sony doing this; there are a few other larger players. Apple, Alcatel, BenQ, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Siemens and Sony Ericsson et all. All of them have several models; most of them are not that cheap.

To this I add two facts. The first one is the economy. It has been 10 years when the 2004 crash came, that hit many people, then the 2008 crash that turned a massive amount of people over the brink of poverty. In that decade the consumer lost close to 21% of purchasing powers. In that decade, the bulk of all people lost a job, or was retrenched at least once, was forced to live on a frozen income, whilst prices of food and housing kept rising and many are not dealing with their debt, so that part is also hanging round their necks as an anchor. The consumer markets ignored that part and now they see the fallout, a fallout that could have been clear to them for at least 3 years, so the writing is not just on the wall, it is a massive neon billboard that was ignored by those who should not have done this (at http://www.cnet.com/au/news/sony-forecasts-2-1-billion-loss-this-year-due-to-its-smartphone-business/)

There is additional ‘evidence’, which is seen here in the quote “The Company blamed the ‘competitive environment of the mobile business.’ Sony has been hammered by competition and an inability to find distributors in key markets such as the US“, I consider that to be a statement of falsehood. Why?

Well, that is always the real question. Consider the list I gave earlier. Siemens has lost a large share, Ericsson lost it as it united with Sony (the company in question), Alcatel was never the largest party in this and neither is Siemens. Huawei is relatively new and several smaller ones do not make the list any more (like NEC), so overall Sony should have consolidated its visibility, but it did not and neither did Nokia. Apple, Samsung and HTC grew, yet overall Sony should not have lost THAT amount, which means that there is more. I blame the over flooding and iterative consumer model as one reason, such a model cannot be sustained if you cannot grow the customer base and that part is currently diminishing and will keep on diminishing for another 2 years. We can no longer afford a new mobile or car every year, in all honesty, we never could, but that part is mainly the result from the pushed idea of ‘ego’ and peer pressure.

The second quote that gives the ‘frying pan’ and ‘the fire’ expression is: “While its Xperia Z3 flagship is making its way into the US through T-Mobile“, many consumers have had enough of being held over a barrel by telecom providers, the ‘new’ mobile is less and less an incentive to hold on to a solution, that side only works for business customers and they too are shopping in the margins. The final quote is “companies such as Google and Microsoft are laying out plans to broaden their reach into the emerging markets with more affordable smartphones“, that group is now targeting the ACTUAL consumers that are available. Huawei had an advantage there, but they are quickly losing that advantage as they emulate Samsung and HTC more and more.

You see, in this day and age, mobile makers have been pressing the ‘exclusivity’ option just a little too long and now the towers break down. You do not have to believe it, but not unlike the car industry, we do not need 7 models with 22 configurations. That image is created by advertisers, finding people telling you that ‘choice’ is all about ‘individuality’ whilst they try to sell that same package to millions; it is a fake concept as I see it. Yes, we want some choice, but the consumer driven industry took that way over the top. That same issue we have seen in mobiles for some time now and the bigger players, coming with half a dozen models are now finding that they are selling ‘hot’ cakes from a fridge in a place where there is no electricity. So why the ridiculous amounts of ‘add-ons’?

Apple avoided most of the issues by having one phone in 3-4 options, where memory was the choice. We do not need 8-12 models, having one phone, which does most, would suffice. Then we get the issue with price, smaller models cost some, or need a ‘contract’, in my eyes it is an interaction of pimping and harlotry for customers, but who is who is not clear to the consumer. Consider that many do not have $800 for a phone, yes we get options for cheaper, but many providers offer a lot less at that point, whilst a generic cheaper phone would be the solution to many, brands are ego pushing the more expensive models at any given opportunity. Although Huawei seemed to have nailed the market, they seem to slowly start making the same error the others are making. Consider that Huawei offered a 4G phone for less than half the price (unlocked and free of contract) than many other providers, so why would we pay twice the price?

Let’s not forget that many providers are no longer delivering a reliable mobile. If it has android than it is likely that the phone is forcing Google search down our throats, whilst forcing people to store all data on a Google account, so that they can copy the data. Apparently there is a way to switch that off, but the result is implied to be so disgustingly customer unfriendly, that we are starting to wonder whether criminal charges are in order. Now, my Motorola suddenly got ‘enhanced’ buttons at the bottom, where it seems that there is a software overlaid button that FORCES me to Google search. How was that MY choice?

So, in the age of data, the market will soon belong to the mobile maker that will respect the customer and BY DEFAULT, let the person choose what they want to do with their data, photos and other smart phone parts. This is all linked, because where confidence dwindles, people are less likely to choose a smart phone and more likely to go back to the old days of the Nokia 1100 (with silver LCD screen, offering voice and SMS only, oh and it avoided bank security for a little while).

It is my firm believe that if big boys like Sony, Nokia and others want to turn their market around, they will need to take time to ACTUALLY learn their customers’ needs and not force corporate choice as customer wishes down the throats of these consumers. For example, instead of 19 Nokia Lumia models make 4 with one extra landscape option. If you only need 5 models, you can simplify the process, down production costs, distribution complications and get a better return. It is just a crazy thought, but what do I know. I thought that the Lumia was gorgeous, but I am not paying $935 for a phone, not in this age of theft and pickpockets, especially as phone insurances are getting less and less affordable. Sony should consider that same idea. Do you think Apple was lazy? 2 phone models, each with three memory options, which means two models each with three memory chip options. NO! Apple foresaw the complicated BS that others face and as such they have more than a small corner in the market. This is odd as the main component for a phone is its battery and Sony has always had superior battery technology, so Sony should have been the number one choice, but alas, that is not the case, so why do we see a contender with a superior key part run a market at minus 2000 million? Beats me, but someone is clearly asleep at the wheel.

Of course, I admit that I am oversimplifying the entire issue, but am I so wrong? I do not think so. I will admit that I missed a few issues in this, but as Sony is at minus a lot and others have a dwindling market, I feel that I am onto something. I am also certain that people have had enough of data collection and these mobile players to use their consumers as off the books revenue piggy banks, the first one to change the wheel on that process might end up owning the market. For those who would ‘ignore’ that path, remember that no matter how ‘valuable’ that data seems to be, once the customers walk away, you end up without data and without people using your product. Sony has the option to bounce back, but that window of opportunity is small and quickly getting smaller as Google and Microsoft are tapping into their own worlds. Sony might have not have that many options left and they forgot the one lesson Miyamoto Musashi instilled upon them almost 450 years ago: “If you do not control the enemy, the enemy will control you”, they forgot this lesson as well as the fact that ego is as much an enemy as an actual opponent, especially as ego is not regarded as an enemy until it strikes after which it gets named Hinan!

 

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