Sony Corp. is well known for its consumer electronics, including laptops and tablet computers, Blu-ray players, TVs and the ever-popular PlayStation game system. However, the company's operations span more than just consumer electronics. Sony produces, manufactures and distributes some of today's popular music. Sony's ventures also include a non-life and life insurance company, an Internet banking business, networking services and an advertising agency.
Sony Corp. is a Japanese multinational conglomerate. In 2011, the company ranked 73rd on the Fortune Global 500 list. Sony Corp. through Sony Group has four main operating segments -- Electronics (which includes Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Mobile Communications), Sony Music Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Financial Services, which includes Sony Life Insurance Co. Ltd. and Sony Bank. The company also owns a Japanese-based advertising agency, which it mentions in its regulatory filings.
In 2002, Sony bought the remaining shares of Aiwa Corp., another Japanese company, making it a wholly owned subsidiary. Aiwa manufactures consumer electronics such as audio equipment and stereo systems. By 2005, Sony scaled back its support for Aiwa to select markets and by 2006, Aiwa's products were discontinued and no longer sold in the market. Twenty years before it bought Aiwa, Sony acquired Music Center Inc., the company credited with commercializing the 24-track recorder and in-line mixing console. Sony integrated MCI into its Sony Professional Products division. MCI sells multi-track recorders and audio consoles. In 2001, Sony formed a joint venture with Swedish telecommunications company, Ericsson, forming Sony Ericsson. In 2012, Sony bought out Ericsson's share of the joint venture for $1 billion.
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment is responsible for such well-known television hits as "Married With Children," "Designing Women," "Seinfeld," "Mad About You" and "The Nanny." The division's biggest acquisition to date is Columbia Pictures Entertainment, which it bought in 1989 for $3.4 billion and integrated into Sony Pictures. Film projects include "The Amazing Spider-Man" and a remake of "Total Recall." Its movie, "Men in Black 3," as of summer 2012, surpassed $500 million in worldwide box office sales, with $364.5 million coming from overseas. Sony also acquired Guber-Peters Entertainment Co. in 1989 for $200 million.
Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music Entertainment is the fourth-largest recorded music company and is controlled by Sony Corp. of America. Through acquisitions and artist development, Sony Corp. owns full or partial catalogs of music by Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Usher, Eminem and others. Through a joint venture with Bertelsmann Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, Sony created Sony BMG. In 2008, Sony bought out Bertelsmann's stake for $1.2 billion. Sony also owns a 50 percent stake in ATV Music Publishing, which it bought in 1995 for $110 million. It also purchased digital music recognition company Gracenote for $260 million in 2006. In 2002, Sony acquired music publishing company Acuff-Rose Music for $157 million, which it folded into Sony/ATV.
Sony Financial Services
Sony Financial Holdings Inc. is the holding company for Sony's financial services division that provides non-life and life insurance products. The unit's revenues account for half of Sony's global earnings. Sony also owns an Internet banking company it established in 2001, called Sony Bank. The bank does not have any ATMs or branches; all transactions are online. Sony's stake in the bank is 87.4 percent, with 12.6 percent owned by Sumitoto Mitsui.
Sony Computer Entertainment
Given its popular game console Playstation and hand-held game PSP, Sony acquired a number of video game companies throughout the United States and abroad. In 2001, Sony acquired Naughty Dog, maker of the popular Uncharted series. Other video game acquisitions include Psygnosis Limited, Eidetic Games, Incognito Entertainment, Guerrilla Games, Zipper Interactive, Sigil Games Online, Evolution Studios, Bigbig Studios, Media Molecule and Sucker Punch Productions
Besides outright ownership, Sony has had a stake in close to 60 companies throughout its history. The most recent joint ventures excluding Bertelmann and ATV include ST Liquid Crystal Corporation, a Japanese maker of LCD panels and display panels; Square Enix, a Japanese video game manufacturer; S-LCD, Fearnet, a video-on-demand service in the U.S.; Cellius, a Japanese video game company; Field Emission Technologies Inc. of Japan; Moversa GmbH, a small card applications business in Japan; Sharp Display Corporation, a Japanese maker of LCD panels and modules; and Vevo, a video-on-demand service in the U.S. One of Sony's largest interests, worth $4.8 billion, is in the movie and television production company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
- Sony: 2011 Annual Report
- Sony: Consolidated Financial Statements March 31, 2012
- TheWarp: Men in Black 3 Passes $500M at Worldwide Box Office
- TheAge: Sony Eyes Online Australian Banking
- Sony: Sony and Ericsson Completes Joint Venture Agreement
- Sony Pictures: Corporate Fact Sheet
- Reuters: Sony Buys Ericsson Out of Mobile Phone Venture
- FundingUniverse: Sony Corporation History
- Wired: Sony Buys Out Bertelsmann's Sony BMG Stake for $1.2 Billion