Imbecile of the Week #5: Ken Kutaragi
Last week Airbus announced it was replacing the guy in charge of its A380 superjumbo because of continued delays to production. The delays don’t help when the company is struggling to sell enough of the machines to break even.
Well a similar – and potentially more expensive – situation is going on at Sony, where the Playstation 3 has been delayed in Europe and its production volumes to the U.S. and Japan have been cut to a paltry 500,000 each. They were supposed to sell 4,000,000 consoles by the end of 2006 and will now only manage 2,000,000 tops. It’s causing major problems for Sony as it gives Microsoft yet another Christmas season to dominate as the #1 console.
The production of the PS3 has been delayed because of the Blu-Ray disc players that go inside them. Blu-Ray is one of two competing formats (the other being HD-DVD) hoping to replace the humble DVD as the disc of choice for film and video-game consumers. Both formats have been beset by problems such as a shortage of blue-coloured lasers, discs that just don’t work, and the new version of Windows not supporting either.
But there’s been no chopping of heads as seen at Airbus.
It might because there’s nothing Sony can do about it, so it’s no-one’s fault (hardly likely), or more probably, it could be because of a different management style (Airbus’s boss got into trouble because he didn’t warn the Board of Directors that the plane was going to be delayed by turbulence).
Sony have got a lot to lose from having the PS3 delayed: not just poor figures for 2006, but also a loss in market share as parents buy their kids XBoxes for Christmas, and a boost for HD-DVD which looks set to get to market far quicker than its arch-rival.
Ken Kutaragi (boss of Sony’s Computer Entertainment division) might have kept his job for now, but in the second round of Format Wars, HD-DVD has been dealt another card in its favour.