Sad News for SONY – they are looking to sell their mobile and TV divisions


SONY used to be synonym for great products with incredible quality for decades.

There were rumors and corporate legends about how they throw TVs with defects is the sea etc. (nobody knows if this was real or not but these legends sounded good).

The Trinitron CRT technology gave them name for the best TV manufacturer, something like Mercedes brand is for cars.
But being on top for so many years play bad joke to them, they became huge and fat corporation and silently Samsung took the leadership with the new LCD and flat screen technology TVs, so SONY became just yet another TV manufacturer and all the news and improvements were not done by them for the last years.

In 2012 Sony sold their SMT machine business, then they sold the VAIO brand and PC business, now they quit the competitive mobile business and one of their core foundation – the TV business. WTF is happening with Sony? This company was so innovative in the past, how come from leader they become a looser?

Our first hand experience with SONY is with their SMT Pick and Place machines.

Back in 2012 I was looking for upgrade of our SMT machines and spotted SONY machines, they had incredible features on the flyers and we got good price so we ordered line of two machines SONY SI-G200MK3 and SI-F209 in line.

We got the two machines in the middle of 2012 …. in December 2012 Sony sold their SMT division to Juki. These machines are one of the finest Pick and Place machines I have seen. Incredible mechanical strength, precision, speed. The Japanese engineers are well known to be the best mechanics in the world, who ever have dealt with motorcycles knows that one of the finest mechanical part the carburetor where gasoline and air are mixed are manufactured just in Japan, no matter if the motorcycle is German, US, Italian – all they work with Japanese carburetors because it’s very precise mechanical device and nobody else can match Japanese mechanical production quality.

Our SI-200G MK3 places 200 components on A20-OLinuXino-LIME for about 15 seconds! This is incredible and unmatched productivity. Although very expensive their high speed make overall assembly cost several times lower than other machines we have.

I can’t say any good word for the machine software though, when we work with these machines we got the impression that their software is written with HATE to the end user. Everything is made NON logical, incredible hard to use and understand. Components waste during programming and first board pass is incredible. We got the impression that 90% of all road to good user experience was made and they failed or didn’t care to make this final 10% working. Functionality which we have even on the cheapest Chinese made Autotronik machines are MISSING in this HIGH END, HIGH PRECISION, INCREDIBLE masterpiece of mechanical engineering.

Error messages you got are NON sense and confusing. For instance your feeder peel of tape is blocked and simple have to be released – instead to write check your feeder on slot N you get 12 different messages for servo motor problems, and how to contact your Sony FA service.

When you change your machine program you have to place your NOZZLES manually to the machine head, this is the first machine which have no auto Nozzle change feature.

The machine runs Windows and have Ethernet port, but you have to load it’s program with FLOPPY DISK and to pay $2000 more if you want to use your Ethernet? WTF??? Needless to say this ‘feature’ can be enabled by any student who ever used to use Windows but the bitter taste of being customer used like sheep to shave remains.

Feeders which cost $200-300 by any other manufacturers, cost $2000 for the Sony placers. I have opened Sony feeder but didn’t saw gold or diamonds to be used inside which to justify this price! Maybe the secrets is that inside everything is branded Sankyo – motors, PCBs, etc so actually these feeders are not made by Sony?

Simple nozzle which Chinese vendor (who produces them for Sony) sells for $50 cost $800 if you buy from the Sony representative.

Spare parts are also at unbelievable prices, like CCD camera for $10 000 and etc.

Needles to say the salesman who sold us the line hidden lot of these facts when came to sell the machine, the good news is that these machines are so solid build that spare parts would be needed after years of operation (we hope 🙂 ).

The machine programming on separate computer is locked with USB dongle! Why on earth you lock this software which WORKS ONLY WITH YOUR MACHINES?? Not speaking that this is the most buggy and user unfriendly programming software I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot. Once you do mistake there is no step back, you have to start over from scratch and waste your time again and again! If you make machine programming once per month this is OK, but we have 600 different products and we have to change the programs daily.

Elementary small software details which exist on every other machine to make your life easy here are missing. For me it seems the software of these machines is made by secod grade student who never have been seen pick and place machine before and was learning how to make something.

No wonder why at the end of 2012 Sony sold they SMT machines business to Juki, Juki engineer earlier told me that even in the Sony factories they prefer to use Juki instead of their own Sony Pick and Place machines. I don’t know if this is true or not, but seems logical.

Do not get me wrong! SONY machines are excellent as mechanics, productivity, precision. If they made some small enhancement these machines would be the best choice for every PCB assembly shop. Maybe this business model is the reason they keep losing their customers and markets, they have great products which are made in such way that to push away the users providing one of the worst user experience, which easily could be fixed by software!

In the good times when Sony was on top and had pile of cash they bough film producing company in Holywood. Sony Pictures now still seems the only profitable unit in Sony Corp. Will Sony became just a film producing company and will stop doing electronics at all? Time will show.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. funlw65
    Jan 19, 2015 @ 20:17:37

    I feel sorry for their mobile division, Xperia Z series are great (but there are Nokia and Apple). For TV division I don’t care, and for Photo cameras, we have Canon and Nikon.

    Yeah, I guess this is happening when stupid and greedy owners get in charge and generate the fall of an amazing technical team. As is happening with Microchip from some time…


  2. Morgaine
    Jan 19, 2015 @ 23:50:45

    Sony was great as long as their focus was on engineering, because they had very good engineers creating advanced products in the early days. They used to be synonymous with quality.

    The company started failing when it changed its focus from engineering progress to engineering restriction, using their own storage media formats incompatible with those of other companies. It then worsened when they became a media business and began restricting their content and their players. It quickly became clear that the company was under the control of lawyers instead of engineers, as lawyers are all about restrictions.

    Epic failures like the Sony rootkit and removal of “Other O/S” capability in their game console cemented the company’s death in the eyes of many techies, and gave rise to tech boycotts of Sony which continue to this day. (They’re still on my purchasing blacklist, and will be there forever if they don’t change.) The company is clearly infested with people whose concerns are the opposite of technical progress.

    The excellent electronics leader of yesteryear is probably no more, long dead, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the company divesting of more electronics divisions because the people now in charge have no interest in engineering. I suspect that all that’s left in Sony’s future is a long downward spiral into irrelevance as just another media brand.


  3. skfree
    Jan 20, 2015 @ 19:46:39

    Same situation with me.

    Started in 90’s, perfect hw products. Simply just worked.
    Then, i bought MiniDisc which was able to “play” mp3’s. HW fine, but sw was one piece of shit. 200MB install+800mb service pack generated something, which you need to convert every CD or mp3 to own propietary ATRAC codec. It run’s slow, it freezes, its never completed, so i was happy to sold the brand new MD to another tekkie unaware of sony sw shit.

    From that time, they are on my private DONT_BY_BLACK_LIST, because i see they have not changed a bit. They have produced a perfect sony z3 compact, but killed with poor & cheap back-glass, which does crack itself! But they have saved 5 USD for gorilla glass.

    Thump up!



  4. sergio
    Jan 21, 2015 @ 00:37:09

    olimex’ comments about the sony software seem to be the norm with software in general these days. IMO bad software is being written on top of bad software (many levels deep now). Gone are the days when a programmer understood all the software UNDER his software and bugs were rare. Now it seems that programmers hack away at example (or reference) code in order to get things running and managers just release it. If we are lucky there is a test department between the programmer and the end user. If we are not (which seems to be increasingly the case) then the end user is the tester and must rely on his ability to download and apply updates to the product’s firmware.


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Jan 21, 2015 @ 09:01:24

      this is not something you expect from brand name as SONY


      • sergio
        Jan 21, 2015 @ 15:14:14

        I understand what you mean but you are confusing hardware excellence with software excellence. In my experience the two have been diverging for at least the last 20 years. It seems that the bigger the company the less the people at the top understand or value programmers as a work force. They hire the cheapest they can, sometimes even outsourcing to third world countries.

        You probably wouldn’t mind paying 2 or 3 times the market price for a part for your machines if the quality of the software was very high and it saved you a lot of man hours. You’d grin and bare it.

        Do you remember using VisiCalc on an old prehistoric Apple II? That machine only had 48K of RAM. Compare that with modern spreadsheet programs. Ask a modern programmer to write something like VisiCalc in 48K and 99% of them would fail even given a very long time scale.

  5. Lachlan
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 02:03:52

    History repeat’s it self,
    Any system which ignores feed back is doomed to fail sooner or latter.
    Where it be the Roman, Alexandrian, Byzantine empire’s company’s or governments, or our personal life’s.
    Just Naturally selection at work. !


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