A few years back, I shared the stage with Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak, or ‘Woz', as he is often called. Woz has a reputation for being understated, endearing and refreshingly candid — and I quickly saw why.
Chatting with him backstage, I was interested to hear Woz's thoughts on Apple's journey over time, but also on where they are heading next. He was particularly excited about Apple Pay and its potential to revolutionise the world of consumer transactions.
However, what struck me most about the conversation that day were Woz's musings on other companies he and Steve Jobs had admired in Apple's early days, such as Atari and Sony — brands that were once beacons of innovation but were now a shadow of their former selves.
While Woz's reflections regarding Atari were no great surprise (the company had filed for bankruptcy just two years earlier and their woes were embarrassingly public), the mention of Sony took me by surprise. After all, I hadn't considered Sony to be a struggling company — until I did some research, that is.
The name ‘Sony' was once synonymous with innovation. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the Japanese electronics powerhouse was responsible for producing wonders such as the Trinitron, the Walkman, the world's first CD player, the 3.5-inch floppy disk, and the first PlayStation and Blu-ray player.
Although outwardly Sony looked the picture of business success in the late 1990s, the storm clouds of trouble were already brewing.
In 1999, ...