Decline of Japanese CE companies

Once the dominant forces in consumer electronics, Japanese companies like Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp find themselves lagging behind the competition.

A Sony Wega rear-projection television found by the garbage in New York. John Falcone/CNET

It wasn't that long ago that Sony was the gold standard in consumer electronics. Now, it's scrambling with subpar products, a tarnished brand, and has been scrambling to find a sense of direction. Its downturn underscores the broader troubles that the Japanese electronic giants all face, companies that include Panasonic and Sharp. Sadly, Sony may be the best positioned among them to mount a comeback.

The fall of these companies provides a warning to others that attempt to do too much, spreading themselves too thin and missing out on crucial trends, like the rise of the global smartphone and high-definition flat-panel television markets. Curiously, the South Korean companies Samsung and LG have excelled where the Japanese companies have struggled. That's caused a seismic shift in the kinds of televisions and electronics products you see in store shelves.

For more on this story, see Roger Cheng's analysis here .

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