Whatever happened to the Japanese consumer electronics industry?

Started by Cougerboy, May 07, 2024, 12:42:02 PM

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Whatever happened to the Japanese consumer electronics industry? (Read 204 times)

Cougerboy

Japan is a country long known for their technology and industrial achievements. In the automobile sector, Japan remains a global leader with Toyota and Honda of course (Nissan and Mazda is on somewhat more shaky ground but at least not in any immediate danger of going under anytime soon). But one other technological sector that Japan used to be known for as an export powerhouse, consumer electronics, it has shrank and almost disappeared, at least in external markets outside Japan.

Today, Korea's Samsung and LG dominates consumer electronics in smartphones, blu-ray players and flat screen LCD TV. Apple offers premium priced iphone and ipad products and a whole slew of technology companies from China and Taiwan offering cheaper electronic goods. Quite a contrast to the time when Japanese consumer electronics was supreme globally, back in the 80s and 90s, when you had the Sony's Walkman (and later Discman), Toshiba and Fujistsu's laptops, Panasonic's videotapes, JVC's VCR recorders, Sharp's television, Pioneer who made CDs (and later LaserDisc, DVDs and Blu-rays) and NEC's personal computers. But now? None of those companies are anywhere close to where they were in their glory days of the 80s and 90s (some of those companies still do well, but not in the consumer electronics sector globally).

The one possible exception being in video games, where Nintendo and Sony Playstation still offer highly competitive products. But that's the exception rather than the rule. In all other consumer electronic sectors, Japanese brands have become distant laggards. They completely missed the smartphone revolution for example. Yes, Sony had a joint venture with Ericsson to make cellphones (before buying out Ericsson's share to form Sony Mobile today), yet their current smart phone offering, Xperia, is WAY down the list of smartphones sold, its not even in the same league as Samsung Galaxy and Apple Iphone. So whatever happened to the Japanese consumer electronics industry and their global dominance?

I mean, Japan is known for their highly educated and disciplined workforce with incredible work ethic...on paper, therefore Japan should not have lost their top position in consumer electronics. But now?

The Cruentus

Perhaps they want to focus on specific things rather than spread out into multiple different areas. It doesn't help that the market is getting saturated so its hard to revolutionize when everyone is doing the same thing.

Cougerboy

Cougerboy

#2
Quote from: The Cruentus on May 07, 2024, 04:26:34 PMPerhaps they want to focus on specific things rather than spread out into multiple different areas. It doesn't help that the market is getting saturated so its hard to revolutionize when everyone is doing the same thing.

How did Japan lose its cutting edge in this sector? They seem to miss the boat on digital and software development side.

I heard that is because Japan traditionally focused on mechanial engineering and look down on software developers. And the strict hierarchy of Japanese firms meant they tend to be excessively bureaucratic and resistant to new ideas. But those are just some theories.


I wonder if Japan can come back in any shape and form to be more competitive globally in consumer electronics? I am sure the likes of Sony or Panasonic would love to recapture their glory days and once more dominate the consumer electronics sector. The question is how. Maybe now with the move to AI and robotics, Japan might be competitve, since do have a pretty strong foundation in robotics.

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