Since becoming a conglomerate in the 1990s Sony has been managed as a collection of fiefdoms, not a coherent whole. Yet many of those fiefdoms now seem headed in the same direction.
- Sony chose an open source format, EPUB, for its e-book reader.
- Sony-Ericsson is apparently taking command of the open source Symbian movement as Nokia retreats from it.
- Sony Pictures Imageworks is launching an open source program.
Under Akio Morita, who resigned as chairman in 1994 and died in 1999, Sony was a lot like Steve Job's Apple -- iconoclastic, entrepreneurial, proprietary, secretive. These moves indicate the company is now headed in the opposite direction.
It's easy to say that Howard Stringer, the former CBS head who has been chairman of Sony since 2005, is behind a grand turn toward open source. Interesting if true. But the who is not nearly as important here as the what.
The what seems to be an attempt by Sony to regain market share by embracing open source across the board. Anyone ready to root for the Japanese?