There was a time when the word 'Sony' wasn't just a consumer electronics brand; it carried meaning about innovation and modernity.
But for the last 20 years ago, the company has declined, weighed down by its own success and by the ferocious innovation of competitors in the digital world, like Apple. As management-culture has superseded innovation-culture, Sony has sought to build on the success of brands like PlayStation, without really coming up with groundbreaking new ideas.
Japanese newspaper Nikkei has looked into a new unit within the company that is aggressively seeking to create new products. Created by Shinji Odajima it invites ideas and applications from Sony employees.
So far, he said, response has been overwhelming. A call for auditions was met with 800 replies. The unit is currently made up of 200 people, many of them young and keen.
"There are still plenty of employees in Sony looking for a challenge," said Odajima, in an interview translated by Engadget. "Renewal is supremely important for Sony."
He said that the idea for the New Business Creation division came about because no one at Sony knew where to take their ideas. "We were mired in an innovation dilemma," said Odajima. He is currently screening out the division's first batch of ideas, to see which will go forward.
According to Odajima, Sony's somewhat hidebound reputation does not concern him. "People might have negative things to say about us, but I don't take much notice of that," he said.