If a powerful brand does not provide a sure-fire, long-term anchor for success, what about the products themselves? On this, the article had this to say:
“If their chief executives were visionary leaders willing to take risks, Japanese electronics firms could do much to regain their lost lustre, says Roderick Lappin, who heads the Japanese operations of China’s fast-rising Lenovo. Their unrivalled engineering, though often in excess of customers’ needs, is still an advantage, he says. They sit on a trove of intellectual property in the form of patents. Much of this could prove invaluable in the field of “wearable” technology or the much-hyped “‘internet of things’ …“.
At the end of the day, perhaps the most encouraging thing said in the article about the industry was in connection with Sony, where its smartphones and tablets are enjoying some success due to “one simple, customer-centered innovation—making them waterproof.” But this does not seem to be the stuff of high-level engineering or massive patenting, but simply a shrewd management decision to give the client what it wants (or needs). If so, neither the woes nor the possible solutions to the crisis of Japanese consumer electronics rest primarily with IP. While IP and what it embodies are not unimportant, ultimately what matters is enlightened management, including, but in no way limited to, the effective creation and utilization of IP. But our understanding of how IP fits into the broader picture of successful management still has a long way to go.