Remember When Japanese Electronics Firms Were Dominant? Now They're Apple Suppliers

It was a very bad year for the country's gadget makers.

sonywalkman_615.jpg

Glory days! You could have played that Springsteen tape in here, too (flickr/rockheim).

From Neojaponisme, we find this pretty bleak assessment of the electronics scene in that country. Dominant throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Sony, Sharp, and all the rest have fallen on hard times. And with Apple swallowing up a vast chunk of all the profit made from the sale of gadgets, the conglomerates that defined my childhood have been reduced to making parts for Apple's glitzy products.

2012 was one of the most disastrous years for the bloated electronics industry since its inception. Sharp, Panasonic, and Sony started the year off with bad news but thoughtful hopes -- selling off factories to Chinese investors, realigning product foci, and even looking to create new product lines! -- but ended up reporting losses totaling to ¥1.23 trillion ($15.3 billion). The massive investments failed to pay off, and now Sharp, the most cash strapped of the once-mighty giant manufacturers, looks increasingly likely to end up mostly a parts supplier for Apple. With Sharp supplying iPhone and iPad panels, Sony making the camera sensors, and a small army of smaller manufacturers making many other components, the Japanese electronics industry as a whole seems fated to lack compelling products of its own, forcing it to occupy the less glamorous and less profitable role as the world's ultra high-tech parts maker.

Via Charlie Cheever

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In