The developers of the original PlayStation actually had to fight with Sony to get the console released. Think about that for a moment, the product that Sony didn’t even really want to release has turned into its breadwinner. That’s not an exaggeration either. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai, who happens to be the former boss of the PlayStation division, announced recently that Sony will be hedging most of its bets on the PlayStation on the road to profitability.
It’s funny how times change. 20 years ago, the PlayStation was a skunkworks product that a renegade faction within Sony had just fought to get released. Now here we are in 2015 and Sony CEO Kaz Hirai — a former boss of the PlayStation division — has announced that the company is essentially going to stop trying to grow its consumer electronics businesses beside the PlayStation 4. The PlayStation isn’t only Sony’s last great product; it might as well be Sony’s only product. Sony is The PlayStation Company. Sony has always been the crown jewel of Japan’s once-dominant technology industry. The company made beautifully designed, highly profitable devices in just about every category imaginable, and imagined a few categories of its own. But the one invention with the potential to unify the company — the internet — proved to be its undoing. Sony botched the shift to digital music, it missed the move to smartphones and tablets, and has consistently failed to create a compelling ecosystem for its products. Now the smartphone — other companies’ smartphones, usually — has replaced almost everything it sells.