The Civil War Inside Sony
Sony Music wants to entertain you. Sony Electronics wants to equip you. The problem is that when it comes to digital media, their interests are diametrically opposed. For Keiji Kimura, the problem is small enough to fit in his pocket and just heavy enough to weigh on his mind. Kimura is a senior VP at Sony headquarters in Tokyo, and the problem in question is Apple's iPod, the snappy little music player that's revolutionizing consumer electronics the way Sony's Walkman did some 20 years ago. By rights, Sony should own the portable player business. The company's first hit product, back in the '50s, was the transistor radio, the tinny-sounding invention that took rock and roll out of the house and away from the parents and allowed the whole Elvis thing to happen. A quarter-century later, the Walkman enabled the kids of the '70s to take their tapes and tune out the world. But the 21st-century Walkman doesn't bother with tapes or CDs or minidiscs; it stores hundreds of hours of music on its own hard drive. And it sports an Apple logo.