Thursday, February 06, 2014

Sony is in the tank...

CNN Money just posted this article about Sony Corporations on-going weakness in the electronics marketplace.  Here are a few things that struck me.

"Sony sells PC business, cuts 5,000 jobs...

...The Japanese electronics group said it expects to lose 110 billion yen ($1.1 billion) for the year ending March 31. The forecast was a surprise, and a sharp downgrade from its previous estimate of 30 billion yen profit...

... things are now so bad that Moody's has decided that Sony is no longer worthy of an investment-grade credit rating. The agency downgraded Sony to junk last month, warning that profitability would likely remain "weak and volatile." Fitch made the same move in late 2012..."

No mention was made of Sony's imaging businesses.

Sony is a huge manufacturer of digital sensors for imaging applications.  Their sensors appear not only in their own products, but in those of other manufacturers, too.  Nikon reportedly uses Sony's sensor masks, modifies them for Nikon's needs, then uses Sony foundries for production.  Olympus and Ricoh reportedly use Sony built sensors in some of their products.  Pentax and Phase One (who bought Mamiya) use Sony's 50mpixel CMOS medium format sensor.

I like Sony cameras.  I use a pair of their first generation NEX5 and like the bodies (but find their lenses just "OK").  Their recent full frame mirrorless A7 and A7R announcements seem rather interesting (though not interesting enough for me to leave Canon DSLRs behind).  If they can get their AF speed to match the phase lock AF systems of high end DSLRs, I feel they'd have a Market Dominator on their hands.  Leaving the mirror-box behind seems, on paper, to be a very good idea.  Though Canon's shutter assembly reliability will be hard to beat (300,000 clicks for pro-units, and 150,000+ on semi-pro bodies).

While it's hard to imagine that Sony Corps financial woes will cause them to leave the imaging market, it's hard for me to imagine their camera groups not being effected in one way or another by budget cuts and company reorganization.  Until specific announcements are made, what will happen is anyone's guess.

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