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Sony Group Corporation

legal form Kabushiki-gaisha (joint stock company)
ISIN JP3435000009
founding May 7, 1946
Seat Minato , Tokyo , JapanJapanJapan 
management Kenichiro Yoshida
( President and CEO )

Kazuo Hirai
( Chairman )

Number of employees 111,700
sales 8.9994 trillion Yen (FY 2020/21)
( 68.34 billion )
Branch Consumer electronics
As of March 31, 2021

Headquarters in Tokyo

The Sony Group Corporation ( Japanese ソ ニ ー 株式会社, Sonī Kabushiki-gaisha ) is the third largest Japanese electronics company after Hitachi and Panasonic , based in Tokyo's Minato district . The core business is the Playstation division, the sensor division (CMOS sensors), the music and film business as well as entertainment electronics .


The company was founded on May 7, 1946 by Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka as Tōkyō Tsūshin Kōgyō KK (東京 通信 工業 株式会社, English: Tokyo communications industry company ), abbreviated Totsuko , in Tokyo, which was almost completely destroyed at the time.

The headquarters of the company was initially the burned-out Shirokiya department store in Nihonbashi district . When the premises were no longer available, it moved to Kichijōji as a transition and finally to Shinagawa in 1947 .

An often heard founding myth is that Sony's first product was an automatic rice cooker . In fact, a predecessor company, Tokyo Tsushin Kenkyusho , run by Masaru Ibuka, was working on a rice cooker; however, it was not possible to develop a functional prototype, so that work was discontinued.

Right from the start, the focus was on developing and manufacturing consumer electronics products . The breakthrough came with the acquisition of a license to manufacture transistors from the US American Bell Laboratories . The company then launched its first transistor radio .

With a view to the planned international marketing of its products, the company was looking for a catchy brand name that should also represent the logo and should therefore be short. After much deliberation, the Latin word sonus (sound) was found. It was reminiscent of the English fashion word Sunnyboy (clever boy), which was also used in Japan at the time, and of sunny (cheerful). However, the Japanese pronunciation of sonny means to lose money . Ultimately, you deleted an N and ended up with Sony .

Sony was the first Japanese company to choose a name written in Latin letters (which, given the lost war against the United States, led to much public discussion).

From 1955 the name was used as a brand for products; In 1958 the whole company was renamed Sony .

In 1975 Sony entered battery technology in a joint venture with the Union Carbide Company .

In August 1981, Sony boss Akio Morita presented the first filmless magnetic camera under the name Mavica .

A particular focus was the miniaturization of the devices. In the 1990s, Sony launched around 500 new products annually.

In 2007 the company relocated to Minato.

In September 2012, Sony supported Olympus with around half a billion euros after a balance sheet scandal. Sony thus had 11.46% of the voting rights.

At the beginning of February 2014, Sony announced that it would sell its PC division together with the VAIO brand to Japan Industrial Partners by March 2014 due to the weak sales figures. The television business is to be spun off into a new company. This conversion should cut around 5000 jobs worldwide. In the future, Sony wanted to concentrate on its previous high-selling brands Xperia (smartphones and tablets) and PlayStation (game consoles). VAIO Corporation , in which Sony only has a 5% stake, was created through the sale of the personal computer business .

In 2017, Sony sold its battery division to the Japanese company Murata Seisakusho for 153 million euros . In this area, Sony had registered over 1,000 patents (as of the year 2000) and was among the top ten in terms of the number of these patents.

In September 2019, Sony sold its remaining 5% stake in Olympus.

As a result of Brexit , Sony relocated its European headquarters from London to Amsterdam .


Audio devices

Sony radio tuner ST5600 with amplifier TA1010 (from 1970)
Sony world receiver ICF-SW77
MiniDisc player
Sony cassette deck, CD player and amplifier (circa 1992)

In the 1950s, Sony was one of the first companies to develop a transistors radio , the Sony TR-55 (1955). At that time, Morita bought the rights in the USA for 1000  US dollars .

With the TPS-L2 , Sony developed the first Walkman in 1979 - a small, portable cassette player. Sony holds the trademark right to the term Walkman to this day . Austria is an exception , where Sony was revoked by the Supreme Court in June 2002. In 2004 Sony admitted that the Walkman was the invention of the German Andreas Pavel , who two years before the Japanese patented a device called the Stereobelt that was very similar to the Walkman .

In 1983 Philips (in collaboration with Sony) released the compact disc (CD); Sony also produces CD players to this day . The mobile players were initially called Discman based on the Walkman ; since 1999 they have been called CD Walkman .

As the digital successor to the music cassette (MC), Sony developed the MiniDisc (MD) in the 1990s . The MiniDisc was particularly popular in Asia. In Germany, however, it did not catch on because of expensive license fees and complex copy protection mechanisms . Due to the small size of the devices and the robustness of the media, the MD were at times fairly popular as a mobile music data carrier. The press and radio in particular valued them for interview purposes because of their ability to record uncomplicated and very high quality sound with them. Otherwise, it was the battery life of the MD devices that kept the format alive to this day. With the top models, they last up to 135 hours.

The SACD format developed by Sony and Philips in 1998 could not establish itself on the market.

On October 1, 2002, the Japanese competitor Aiwa was taken over 100% by Sony.

Video and television

Later Betamax video recorder SL-HF100
Action camcorder with underwater housing
Sony HandyCam Pro CCD-V90E

Sony launched the first portable transistor television with the TV-8-301 .

Sony developed the Betamax video recording system and launched it in the second half of the 1970s. Betamax lost the format war against the competing VHS system ( JVC ), although it achieved better results. Sony sells camcorders and action camcorders for the entertainment market and professional video cameras. It was not until 1988 that Sony started offering VHS video recorders with technology from Hitachi .

The Trinitron color picture tubes developed by Sony were also used in the professional sector. They have been pushed out of the market by LCD , LED and plasma televisions.

Sony marketed televisions in Germany for a number of years (from 1997) under the brand name WEGA . Since 2005, LCD flat screen televisions with the television standard HDTV and projectors , which have been developed in-house, have been marketed under the name BRAVIA . The projectors working according to the standards HDCAM , XDCAM and SRX-4K , which can process the typical cinematic refresh rate of 24 frames per second, are marketed under the name Cinealta . In 2008 Sony presented the 200 Hertz technology at the International Consumer Electronics Fair in Berlin (IFA).

Sony has been selling OLED televisions since 2017 . In January 2017, the A1E was presented with an X1 Extreme processor. The AF8 with 4K followed in 2018. The AF9 was presented at IFA 2018. The AG9 model followed in 2019 with an Acoustic Surface Audio that was improved compared to the AF9 and now also supports Dolby Atmos .

At CES 2019 , Sony presented an 8K television (ZG9) for the first time .

Music and film

In addition to consumer electronics, Sony has made a name for itself in the film and music business in recent years. For two billion pounds sterling , Sony bought the recording company CBS Records and all rights related to it in 1988 , resulting in Sony Music Entertainment (SME), a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America (SCA) . This branch of the company merged in 2004 with the recording company Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), a subsidiary of the Bertelsmann group. Both operated under the name Sony BMG Music Entertainment until BMG withdrew from the music business.

Sony acquired in 1989 by The Coca-Cola Company its entertainment holdings, including the film studio Columbia Pictures . Since then, Sony has owned a successful Hollywood studio, which has formed the core of the SCA subsidiary Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) since 1991 .

Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras

A consortium consisting of four investment companies led by Sony and the cable network company Comcast also bought the film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and its subsidiary United Artists in 2005 .

Digital cameras and image sensors

Sony Alpha A77 with Zeiss lens

In August 1981, Sony boss Akio Morita presented the first filmless (but still analog) magnetic camera under the name Mavica . At the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Sony and Canon achieved decent results in image transfer attempts with newspaper publishers. Sony has been manufacturing digital cameras in large numbers since the 1990s . The series Digital Mavica and Cyber-shot appeared almost at the same time . In 2002 Sony discontinued the Digital Mavica range . Sony also produces digital camcorders under the Handycam brand . As early as the 1980s, Sony had brought some cameras with electronic recording onto the market with the Mavica series, but these were not digital cameras, but analog still video cameras.

The two companies have been partners since 1996 when the first Sony camcorder with a Zeiss lens was introduced. Over 100 million systems had been sold by 2009.

2005 Sony introduced the Cybershot R1, a digital bridge camera with a 10.2 megapixel sensor in APS-C size , which can be viewed as an alternative to an SLR camera.

In addition to manufacturing its own cameras, Sony is also a supplier to many other companies. The downside of this dominance are, for example, the recalls of digital cameras with Sony sensors (2005: Canon , Fujifilm , Konica Minolta , Nikon , Ricoh , Olympus ).

In January 2006 Sony took over the camera business from Konica Minolta . In June of the same year, the first Sony SLR camera, Sony Alpha A100, largely based on Konica Minolta technology, appeared . In 2013, Sony was the first to bring the A7 mirrorless camera with a 35mm-format sensor onto the market. In 2015 the Sony Alpha 7 II achieved very good test results. At Photokina 2018 Canon followed suit with the EOS R and Nikon with the Z 7 and Z 6 . In 2019, Sony has a global market share of 20.2 percent, ahead of Nikon ; in Japan, Sony was the market leader in all camera areas at the end of 2019.

From 2012 to 2019, Sony held shares in Olympus (initially 11.46 percent of the voting rights).

With a stake of 14.88 percent, Sony Corporation is the largest shareholder in the Japanese camera lens manufacturer Tamron .


One of the most successful products from Sony are the PlayStation game consoles, which are produced and developed by the subsidiary Sony Interactive Entertainment (until 2016: Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. ). The first PlayStation was launched in Japan in 1994. The development of the PlayStation originally came out of a cooperation with Nintendo , the aim of which was to manufacture a CD drive for the SNES . After a falling out with Nintendo, the PlayStation became an independent Sony product. After many successes with the PlayStation 2 as the world's best-selling game console so far, Sony had to struggle with heavy losses in the console sector at the end of 2006, as Sony sold the PlayStation 3 below production costs after its release. After Sony brought the 40 GB version onto the market and reduced both the price and production costs through new components in the hardware, the numbers were now in the black. The success continued with the PlayStation 4 released in November 2013 . With the PlayStation 5 , Sony announced a new console in the PlayStation series for November 19, 2020 in Europe.

Mobile phones

Sony Xperia XZ
Sony CMOS sensors Exmor
Sony Tablet S (left) and Sony Tablet P (right)

Sony began developing its mobile phones in Stuttgart in the mid-1990s in collaboration with Siemens . At the beginning of the collaboration, Sony only supplied the batteries , Siemens produced the cell phones for Sony.

In 1998 Sony ended its cooperation with Siemens and set up its own development center called DTCE (Digital Telecommunication Europe) in Dornach near Munich. The cell phones were produced in the Sony factory in Ribeauvillé , Alsace .

In August 2001, an agreement was signed with the Swedish telecommunications group Ericsson to set up a joint venture called Sony Ericsson . The company began operations on October 1, 2001. Due to financial difficulties in the course of the joint venture, the development of cell phones for the CDMA standard and the sites in Dornach and North Carolina were given up at the end of 2003. Research and development at the Dornach site was discontinued and around 300 employees made redundant.

In 2004 Sony Ericsson left the Dornach location. Sony Ericsson was owned equally by Sony and Ericsson, but the Swedish partner withdrew from the joint venture at the turn of the year 2011/2012.

In 2011, Sony also presented its own two tablets, "Sony Tablet P" and "Sony Tablet S".

On February 29, 2012, to complete the integration into the Sony infrastructure, the name of the now 100% subsidiary was changed from “Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB ” to “Sony Mobile Communications AB”. Since then, all smartphones have been sold under the Sony logo, and the company is located in Lund (Sweden). A special feature of the takeover is that the Xperia S and Xperia ion smartphones have both models with the old Sony Ericsson branding and models with the Sony logo.

At the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin 2012, Sony announced the successor to the Sony Tablet S and announced that the Sony tablets will in future be sold under the umbrella of Sony Mobile Communications . The Sony Xperia Tablet S is branded with Xperia for the first time .

Other products

Sony HF cassette

Sony tried again and again to establish its own standards in order to expand its own market position. Mention should be made of the memory stick (a flash memory for digital cameras) and the batteries used in Sony digital cameras, which had special microcontrollers and thus initially successfully prevented replacement or replication.

Optical storage media ( CD , DVD , BD ) are manufactured by Sony DADC . DADC operates around a dozen production plants and a dozen other distribution locations worldwide. The headquarters for the international activities (excluding the USA) of Sony DADC is the plant in Anif in Austria, which also looks after the Europe region; The US headquarters are in Terre Haute, which opened in 1983 . In addition to third-party customers, Sony DADC also looks after the products of its own sister companies SME, SPE and SCE .

The Sony Reader , an e-book reader, is the successor to the LIBRIé , which is popular in Japan .

With its batteries, Sony is also a supplier to many other companies. The downside of this dominance are, for example, the recalls of notebook batteries (2006: Dell , Apple , Toshiba , IBM , Lenovo ).

Other products include the artificial robot dog Aibo and humanoid robot Qrio , the Vaio PCs (for example, drives from Hitachi ) and on Palm OS -based Clié - PDAs , which have already been set. On February 6, 2014, Sony announced that it would temporarily stop bringing new Vaio models onto the market.

Concept vehicle 2020

As part of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2020, the company presented the battery-electric powered concept vehicle Vision-S . This illustrates how the information from various sensors is coordinated with one another, so that a further step towards autonomous driving should be achieved. The vehicle is based on a specially developed platform in which Magna Steyr , Bosch , Continental and ZF Friedrichshafen , among others , were involved. The drive is provided by two electric motors , each with 200 kW (272 hp). The vehicle is expected to accelerate to 100 km / h in 4.8 seconds, and the manufacturer specifies a top speed of 240 km / h. Sony left it open whether the sedan will be mass-produced.


(As of March 31, 2021)

Surname Number of

Shares Held (in thousands)

Percentage of

Shares hero

1 Citibank as Depositary Bank for Depositary Receipt Holders (Grade 1) 114.472 9.4%
2 The Master Trust Bank of Japan, Ltd. (Trust Account) (Grade 2) 100.101 8.2%
3 Japan Trustee Services Bank, Ltd. (Trust Account) (Grade 2) 74.820 6.1%
4th JPMorgan Chase Bank 385632 (Grade 3) 38.750 3.2%
5 Japan Trustee Services Bank, Ltd. (Trust Account 7) (Grade 2) 29,074 2.4%
6th Japan Trustee Services Bank, Ltd. (Trust Account 5) (Grade 2) 25.749 2.1%
7th JPMorgan Chase Bank 385151 (Grade 3) 23.502 1.9%
8th Ssbtc Client Omnibus Account (Grade 3) 23.086 1.9%
9 State Street Bank West Client - Treaty 505234 (Grade 2) 21,566 1.8%
10 GIC Private Limited - C 17,995 1.5%

Worldwide presence

In the showrooms in Tokyo’s Sony Building near Ginza , you can get to know and sometimes try out Sony's product range.

In Germany, Sony has a research center in Stuttgart-Wangen (formerly Sony-Wega in Fellbach) and a sales and marketing center that was relocated from Cologne to Berlin from July 2006 to mid-2007.

The Group's European headquarters are also located in Weybridge (Great Britain).

Hacker attacks 2011

In 2011 there was a whole wave of hacking attacks on the company and its subsidiaries. Several times, millions of customer data have been copied from the servers and partially published. The company had to shut down some of its offers at times, including the PlayStation Network (PSN). According to media reports, several million customers of Sony's online services Qriocity , PlayStation Network and Online Entertainment were affected by the data breach . Username, postal address and e-mail address, including bank account details, were copied and saved in several attacks. In retrospect, Sony set up a hotline for those affected and released paid download offers for Sony's PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable game consoles free of charge as compensation. After the attacks, Anonymous confessed to the attacks on Sony on its news blog .

See also


  • Lutz Hachmeister , Günther Rager (ed.): Who controls the media? The 50 largest media groups in the world. Jahrbuch 2000. Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-42158-X , pp. 102-112. ( Beck series 1358)
  • Lutz Hachmeister, Günther Rager (ed.): Who controls the media? The 50 largest media groups in the world. Yearbook 2005. Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-52832-5 , pp. 88-94. ( Beck series 1658)
  • James Monaco , Hans-Michael Bock : Understanding Film. The encyclopedia. The most important technical terms for film and new media. Revised new edition. Rowohlt Taschenbuch, Reinbek bei Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-499-62667-8 , pp. 225–226.
  • Akio Morita: Made in Japan. A world career ( autobiography ). Hestia, Bayreuth 1986, ISBN 3-7770-0325-5 .
  • John Nathan: Sony: The Private Life . Houghton Mifflin, New York 1999, ISBN 978-0-618-12694-1 .
  • "There will be no Sony without a television." The designated Sony boss Hirai explains how he envisions the future of the group - and what his cell phones can do better than others. In: Welt am Sonntag , March 11, 2012, p. 37. (Interview: Thomas Heuzeroth) Online .

Web links

Commons : Sony  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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