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#1 Posted by Johnny_Sailor (118 posts) -

I don't mean Playstation vs Xbox or anything like that. I mean their electronics in general.

Growing up in high school during the 90s, and even in college for the beginning of the 2000s Sony was the premier, top of the line, best of the best when it came to fidelity and quality. Sony was what your rich uncle had exclusively in their entertainment center. When you looked at Best Buy ads that came in newspapers, or electronic store catalogues, it was always the Sony stuff that you'd look at.

So... what happened? I mean if I were looking for a brand new 4k HDR TV or sound system, I don't think that I'd even consider Sony. They still charge that premier price, but without the product to back it. There are so many options that are not only cheaper but even better. I ask because I read about their brand new flagship phone today, and it seems no better than any other random high spec'd smart phone, but they were still asking that premium price.

For those of you still die-hard Sony fans, what is it about Sony these days that keeps you still in their product line?

I'm not anti-Sony at all. To be honest, I don't really care what electronics company I buy from as long as it has a good price/quality balance. I'm just wondering what happened to the once top dog in the electronics market.

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#2 Posted by nnickers (495 posts) -


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#3 Edited by Jaalmo (1744 posts) -

You answered your own question in that last paragraph. I have no preference. The reason why I buy Sony products sometimes is that it’s relatively cheap for what you get.

As for what happened to them, the market got bigger. More competition, less cake to go around.

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#4 Posted by Jesus_Phish (3765 posts) -

I'm just wondering what happened to the once top dog in the electronics market.

Competition caught up with them, started offering more products at a wider range of prices and eventually overtook them. All while Sony rested on the idea that they're some sort of *premium* brand, like a Rolex or something. Samsung et al. came along and started offering similar products across a different price range. And Sony failed to adjust and lost market share.

Remember, Sony are the company who said we'd all work a second job to buy the PS3. That's what happened to them.

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#5 Edited by Tom_omb (1073 posts) -

@johnny_sailor said:

I'm not anti-Sony at all. To be honest, I don't really care what electronics company I buy from as long as it has a good price/quality balance. I'm just wondering what happened to the once top dog in the electronics market.

I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse of the electronics industry, but for me I think this pretty much sums it up. If the average person is going to drop a ton of money on a pricey TV they have the resources to find reviews and compare products. That, or they'll gravitate to what's on sale for cheap. I think Brands don't carry as much weight. Sure, if you had a bad experience in the past with a brand, you may look for something different next time. But now there are different buzz words people are looking like 4K or SMART TVs.

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#6 Posted by Justin258 (15581 posts) -

Growing up in high school during the 90s, and even in college for the beginning of the 2000s Sony was the premier, top of the line, best of the best when it came to fidelity and quality

It's because you were in high school.

It's easy to be in awe of certain brands or types of things at that age. You find one or two good products and suddenly all of their stuff is the best! But now you're older and you've realized that a handful of good products doesn't mean that everything is golden, especially when it comes to a company as big as Sony.

That's not to say that Sony didn't have a great line of products back then, but they weren't the only thing. They were as much status symbols as they were good products.

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#7 Posted by w00master (144 posts) -

No. And they never were. Research, discover, and learn to find the best product for yourself. Don't ever trust a "brand."

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#8 Edited by diz (1394 posts) -

I think Sony cornered the market with their Trinitron TV patent in the 1960's. Back then Sony Trinitron CRT's were noticeably better (and more expensive) than the competition. The patent expired in 1989, so the competition developed their own similar products, then soon after that flat screens came along. I think this explains why Sony were brand leaders then, but would dispute that they were the premier brand in audio and video, except for their pioneering personal stereos with the Sony Walkman. It was the innovation and patents that made Sony stand out in the market at that time. But they doggedly hung on to Betamax and didn't make anything VHS for a good while. Sony audio quality has always been bettered by other specialist brands though, in my view. Today, there's not as much to differentiate Sony from other brands in quality or function.

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#9 Posted by OurSin_360 (6117 posts) -

They still make quality products my sony 4k tv is pretty great imo. I think the bet on 3d was a bad one and they still haven't fully recovered.

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#10 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7471 posts) -

Sony got into finance trouble in the late 90s and early 00 they just could not get people to switch to their digital recording media. They were were never the scary audiophile brand, when people say Sony was expensive they don't realize the REALLY expensive stuff cost 3x as much from brands that never heard of - Sony was affordable quality. Yet, Japan has a few brands that were the same thing - affordable quality.

I think they Sony is recovering; yet, they are being more careful with what they back. Right now really high quality audio is just not important to most consumers, so Sony's bread and butter is just not there...nor is it there for TEAC, Onkyo, Yamaha, etc. Right now audio is mostly headphones, smartphones, vehicles audio, and home web recording equipment. Sony has it foot in the door well-enough for headphones, smartphones are actually well regarde...just dwarfed in sales by Samsung and LG.

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#11 Posted by FrostyRyan (2898 posts) -

No. And they never were. Research, discover, and learn to find the best product for yourself. Don't ever trust a "brand."


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#12 Posted by sammo21 (5963 posts) -

as far as TV's go I always preferred Samsung, and still do, even though I currently don't have one from them.

With gaming consoles I think Sony has been the best. With phones they are REALLY hit or miss and with laptops they are mostly miss.

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#13 Posted by notnert427 (2158 posts) -

Uh, the Sony X900E is just about the best non-OLED 4K HDR TV you can buy.

I was down to that TV and the LG OLED that most of the GB staff has, and the picture quality on the OLED wasn't noticeably superior to me, nor did the LG have the inputs the Sony did, and they wanted about $800 more for it. I couldn't justify the higher price, so I went with the X900E and I've been completely thrilled with it.

I've had a pair of higher-end Samsung LCDs as well, and have consistently had power board issues with them leading to dead pixels and lines. Twice on one TV, once on the other. Whereas I have an old Sony 40" XBR that serves as my man-cave TV with a half-dozen consoles plugged into it that still works and looks great.

I don't give a flying fuck about Sony's market share in the world of electronics; I care if they make a quality product, and they do (at least when it comes to TVs). Also, FWIW, I'm an Xbox guy, so I have zero "brand loyalty" to Sony. It's as asinine to dismiss a brand on the whole as it is to blindly buy only one brand, IMO.

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#14 Posted by oldenglishc (1543 posts) -

All displays are practically the same the same now. All built in China at a handful of different factories.

Is there even a "boutique" T.V. brand anymore? There's still a couple audio brands that only sell high-dollar equipment, but Pioneer is the last T.V. manufacturer that I can remember that didn't sell any type of non-premium set.

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#15 Posted by vizard1301 (233 posts) -

I have a sony tv for awhile now and its pretty great,no problems really and it was a good price

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#16 Edited by RiotControl (182 posts) -

A lot of Sony's problems over the years have been well documented, discussed and debated on all sorts of financial and tech papers/blogs. That'd probably be your best start to finding out how they lost their dominance.

I have my own reasons for leaving them behind. Regardless of the quality of their products, their customer support has to be the worst I've ever experienced across all of their products. Unacceptably bad, which is NOT the case from their competitors. If Samsung products had a 100% fail rate, I'd still buy their products over Sony because I know they'd solve my problem and repair/replace their product with minimal/no cost to me. Good luck getting Sony to fix your product from a manufactured or design flaw in the product. I'd have left the Playstation forever after the PS2 if there was viable competition in my eyes. (Not counting PC, which I view as one part of gaming you need in addition to a console and a handheld)

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#17 Posted by viking_funeral (2881 posts) -

A lot of Sony's problems over the years have been well documented, discussed and debated on all sorts of financial and tech papers/blogs. That'd probably be your best start to finding out how they lost their dominance.

This. It's been a slow, painful process. The short version is that they lost the edge in quality and innovation, but they are recovering, slowly.

I have a Sony 4k TV. It's good; not great. I'm happy with it.

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#18 Edited by Nodima (2569 posts) -

They've always been the best - they align their analog sticks the proper way.

As for the rest of the brand, I suppose I've never been too attached to them for anything outside of Walkman/Discman and consoles. The only HDTV I've ever owned is the 720p LG from 2009 or 2010 that my dad gave to me in 2013, and Apple is my phone/computer producer of choice and has been since I was a child.

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#19 Posted by nutter (1886 posts) -

Sony always made good stuff as well as middling stuff. It depended on the item and who they were targeting, like any product, really.

I don’t know if any electronics manufacturer is “the best,” or if that notion really matters. It’s more about what’s best for you.

I wasn’t going to spend the money on a Sony A1 OLED TV, it seems like a bad value proposition (for me), but they sure are nice sets.

My last TV (after my Panasonic Plasma and before my LG OLED) was a Sony Bravia. I bought it because it had very nice black levels for an LED. At the price I was willing to spend, it was the best TV for my taste.

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#20 Posted by soulcake (2635 posts) -

If you want a good TV, LG is king these days. They invested a fuckton of money in OLED technology and it's finally paying off.

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#21 Posted by uhtaree (944 posts) -

That's Samsung now. Everything they make is above average like Sony stuff used to be.

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#22 Posted by andythemeZ (396 posts) -

I checked Sony's complete product line recently and was shocked how few products they, and likely most close rivals make. With all in one gadgets like phones and home theater in a box/sound bars, there's less product catagories people need, and less need for a major brand like Sony (which unlike Philips Magnavox, LG Zenith, doesn't seem to have a generic sub brand) to make entry level sold at your pharmacy type of electronics anymore.

If someone still needs a CD player or boom box or MP3 player, there's SanDisk Clip Zip or "Great Value" (Walmart) brand ones.

Meanwhile Sony specifically lost the premium class Android phone war to Samsung hands down, and since phones are so important to us , makes Sony seem like less of the Mercedes of tech like it was 20 plus years ago.

Like HP and IBM still being a big deal in corporate server sized computers while consumer desktop PCs have dropped off, Sony is still huge into like broadcast reference TV monitors (now 30" OLEDs instead of 24" PVM BVM scart BNC CRTs) and have a separate website for professional gear like $40,000 movie studio camcorders. They also have like medical imaging equipment... and of course own a huge chunk of the music and movie industry.

So now basic consumer electronics Sony has just one truly high end TV (an OLED that borrows parts from LG) one truly high end receiver (1080DN series) a few high end critically acclaimed projectors, a few high end critically acclaimed soundbars (and mid range ones too), a few unnameable high end phones that cost as much as Samsung Galaxy but a year or two behind on design and features, some entry level receivers no one recommends, a few oddities like neon LED light show retro shelf stereo boomboxes and an audiophile hard drive based DAC server, one ripoff 4k Blu-ray player at $600 that only has the advantage of playing FLAC files over the $200 version, and a possible revival of their legandary 1980's $2,000 reference headphones.

Plus one catagory they're still huge in on the budget side of things is earbud headphones and Beats competitors (which should all have better sound quality than almost any Beats).

You're right OP they're not as deluxe as they were in their heyday, but they still make enough great stuff. Maybe no longer the number one in any catagory but the most consistent #2 #3 or #4 in every catagory.

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#23 Edited by Yesiamaduck (2523 posts) -

They still make really good headphones! I can't honestly think any other Sony product I'd at any point desire over another brand.

Sony did have an allure to them when I was in highschool but quickly learned that was because they were innovative market leaders when my parents were teenagers and the Playstation was the coolest thing ever.

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#24 Posted by geirr (3737 posts) -

Um, actually, fyi, .. etc.

IDK I just like their big headphones. I got a 40" Sony X-something when the PS3 was released in a package deal
and it's still working perfectly to this day -- though it did get demoted to bedroom TV due to new TV purchases
as of last year.

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#25 Posted by fnrslvr (579 posts) -

As noted above, they seem to have the strongest sub-OLED entrants in the TV market in the x900e and its ilk, which were my frontrunners before I realized that some of LG's models with their market-leading OLED panel had *just* dipped into the top of my price rance. Unfortunately Sony isn't offering an OLED in that critical range, but fwiw that person who really wanted "the best at any cost" last year would've probably landed on Sony's A1. (Er, if they can ignore that weird stand, which the new model coincidentally lacks.)

Their MDR-1000X could also be argued to be the best noise-cancelling wireless headphones on the market, which is a pretty hot (and "the best at any cost" pricey) category right now.

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#26 Posted by CaptainBlueSky (11 posts) -

I don't know if I'd say best, but definitely knocking it out of the park.

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#27 Edited by niko_of_death (147 posts) -

@fnrslvr: Do note that the A1 and LG's OLEDs use the same panels, the only difference is the software/processing (which I would argue is much better on sony's side, but not necessarily $1000 better.)

As for the general question, I'm a sony fanboy (I use sony headphones, have a sony phone, prefer sony consoles and handhelds, prefer sony tvs), but they're definitely not the "Gold Standard" they once were. They definitely have recovered a lot lately though IMO. Though the XZ2 is a huge step in the wrong direction for their phones IMO, hopefully they make another 16:9 phone otherwise I'm sticking with my XZP for the foreseeable future.

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#28 Posted by SkullPanda1 (1623 posts) -

There is something about 80's Sony style that I just like. That nostalgia has certainly influenced other purchasing choices.

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#29 Posted by OurSin_360 (6117 posts) -

@fnrslvr: i believe LG owns the patent on oled so no matter what sony cant match their price(licensing fees or something). Maybe i am wrong but i think either they or samsung have the patent.

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#31 Posted by diz (1394 posts) -

@oursin_360: From what I know, it's UDC who have the main patents (there are 1000's for OLED) and they licence the manufacturing of large OLED screens to LG, who invested heavily.

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#32 Posted by OpusOfTheMagnum (647 posts) -

Tge last couple of years came with announcements they were no linger making their ownDSLR sensors which had been fantastic up to this point and no longer making their own high end TV panels, which again had been fantastic, rivaling even OLED in some aspects. Those were the only two categories that came to mind in terms of them being the best, and those are either no more or will be no more soon.

My bet is they are still big outside of consumer elect electronics and have retained capabilities in certain industry functions but their consumer stuff doesn't have all that many standouts as anything but being among all the other "bests."

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#33 Posted by OurSin_360 (6117 posts) -

@diz: ah, ok then it must be that sony and others have to pay LG either to manufacture or for the right to manufacture, but either way they will cost sony more to make.

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#34 Posted by gamb1t (1067 posts) -

As far as aesthetics Sony is still by far the best looking TV and specs are the best for a hefty price. Consoles? Well i had a ps4 slim for 3 weeks and psu blew on me. 2nd slim Blu ray drive malfunctioned. Not the best company in my eyes.

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#35 Posted by fnrslvr (579 posts) -

@oursin_360: Samsung are notable for not going down the OLED path, choosing instead to push their quantum dot tech. (Rebranded, cringily enough, as QLED.) It doesn't seem to be going amazingly for them.

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#36 Edited by Clapmaster (322 posts) -

Well LG Oled is the best tv out right now and Sony has one with the same screen with their processor that is slightly better but too expensive compared to LG's so yeah they're still doing pretty damn good.

My Sony tv that I bought in 2013 was the best tv to come out that year. They were doing quantum dots 6 years ago.