It's 1980 and Sony unleashes its chunky Walkman on an American public in the grips of disco fever. After a slow start, Sony scores a massive hit with the world's first portable music listening device. By 1989, more than 50 million Walkmans had flown out of its factories and the Sony brand became synonymous with market-creating innovation. But fast-forward to 2005 and Sony has lost its crown. In September, the group said it faced an operating loss of Y20 billion (£100 million) for the financial year - its first such deficit for a decade.
Sony's first non-Japanese CEO, Welshman Sir Howard Stringer (a former CBS producer), took command earlier this year after the failure of predecessor Nobuyuki Idei's 2003 turnaround plan. In September, Stringer announced a restructure involving 10,000 job losses, a reorganisation of Sony's operating businesses and a focus on champion products. 'We need to focus aggressively on being the number one consumer electronics and entertainment company on the planet,' he said. 'We must be like the Russians defending Moscow against Napoleon, ready to scorch the earth to stay ahead of the invaders. We must be Sony United and fight like the Sony Warriors we are.'