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Businesses Displays Japan

Sharp Overwhelmed By Volunteers For Early Retirement 103

jfruh writes "Sharp, the Japanese LCD supplier in dire financial straits, is trying to cut staffing by offering an early retirement package. Unfortunately, it seems Sharp employees are eager to abandon a sinking ship. The company was planning on cutting its headcount by about 2,000 employees with the move; instead, it had to cut short the program after getting nearly 3,000 applicants."
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Sharp Overwhelmed By Volunteers For Early Retirement

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  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:07PM (#42044187) Journal

    ...pretty smart for the employees who applied, though.

    Japan's demographics (older than most other countries as an average) do tend to skew things upward a bit on their own, but think about it - instead of getting laid off or cut off, you get a steady income and go work somewhere else at the same time (and even while searching for another job, it's at least something to subsist from).

    Beats the hell out of getting a pink slip and nothing from the deal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:28PM (#42044463)

    This is Japan. Their CEOs are known to take paycuts when the company tanks. This is a different culture. The retirees probably live with the children and raise the grandchildren. Sharp probably just has an aging workforce like every other developed country and the retirement package was good enough.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @02:35PM (#42044579) Journal

    A lot has been written about Sony, especially in Japan where it was THEIR giant taking on the world. Sony USED to be a tech company run by techs. Googles 20% work on your own project sound nice? Pah! At Sony entire teams could work 100% on stuff that nobody knew could ever work. Then around the millennium a new guy was put in charge and he did not come up through the company as a tech but was strictly management. He too wanted to streamline the business and get rid of dead wood old engineers. It worked BRILLIANTLY. Not only was the package VERY attractive so all who could, took it but new jobs were waiting with little upstart companies like Samsung but I don't suppose you ever heard of them. Oh wait, isn't that the dingy Korean company that makes cheap Japanese knock-offs. Well, they can never compete because Japan has all the know-how locked up in job contracts... OOOOPS!

    It was an epic brain drain and one Sony never really recovered from. It wasn't their only mistake but it was a hell of a nail in the coffin. Sharp did better, Sharp still has a reputation for Japanese made (and for the very old and very young, there was a time when Japanese made meant quality of an insane degree even the swiss found hard to beat. A Sony TV just worked, yes it was expensive but it just worked. And then management took over, streamlined the business and that stopped. Samsung quality is catching up but only because Japanese quality is going down.

    Note that the asian giants on the rise are NOT streamlining their business and all the western ex-giants have streamlined themselves to dead. The simple fact is that pure managers can't see the next hit, the Walkman and the PS were things no manager could have seen. For sony to enter the console industry against the giants in that sector was considered insane.

    When the techs left and management took over, Sony lost its edge. In the west people only know Sony the electronics giant same as say Nintendo. Did you know Nintendo once made a vacuum cleaner? Post WW2 Japan grew a tradition of little workplaces were people were busy trying to come up with anything to produce and export. Because with no natural resources and a devastated economy, that was the only way Japan was going to make money. Building thingies, firs cheap and crap, then cheap and okay and finally expensive and bloody good. And they did this at the cost of western companies that were to busy stream lining their businesses.

    If your young, name a WESTERN TV maker. That actually still makes TV's. Every western household has a TV but who supplies them? The asians. Yeah, that worked out well, for the asians but the likes of Philips? Shadows of their former self as they focussed on their core compentency in existing shareholder meetings. PIty that it turned out loosing money is their core compentency.

    You can see it with Hostess. I said it before, as a EU person I can't see the big deal, their snacks just ain't that good. When was the last time they extended their product range in a significant way? And I don't mean a chocolate twinkie but as a TV company, making a walkman, producing a game console. Look at how much flack MS is getting for daring to go into hardware. Streamlining your business is just another way of saying "we are closing down". In tech, the next big thing needs to be researched yesterday if you want to launch it tomorrow. Except the real time line is measured in decades and you will have many failed research projects in the mean time. But you got to do that if you want that massive hit.

    Another reason that racing to the bottom never works is because there is always someone at the bottom waiting to take your place. Sharp can't keep in the display race, that just means the next iPad's displays will be all Samsung, now boosted by the free to hire Sharp engineers.

    Surely Sharp knows the history of its major rival. Things must be dire indeed to follow the path of certain doom.

  • by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @04:35PM (#42046215)
    But China is and authoritarian capitalist government nowadays, so capitalism has not failed at all. Actually it is the only economical system that works reasonably well.

    What doesn't work is crony capitalism which is what US capitalism is becoming.
  • by debrain ( 29228 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:58PM (#42050603) Journal

    This is a fascinating post. Thank you for posting it. Not enough is written about the fall of Sony.

    Incidentally, from a previous post I wrote [slashdot.org]:

    The history of Sony's management is quite fascinating. I've lost the link, but I recall there being an article about Sony's decision over who to replace their then-CEO around 1999 (Norio Ohga), who had been CEO for ages and brought Sony to new economic heights. The choice of his successor was either the head of Sony Entertainment (i.e. the copyright/media side of Sony) or the head of Sony Computer (i.e. the head of the electronics side). They ended up choosing the head of the copyright/media side of Sony, Nobuyuki Idei.

    Anecdotally, since that decision, I've noticed that Sony's technology shine has dropped completely off my radar (i.e. I don't even turn to them to find out what the latest and greatest tech is, whereas at one point they were certainly a contender for something that I'd consider cool), while their foray into rent-seeking for their copyright has also gone off the deep end.

    I might be wrong about the details of the history - I'd be interested in finding the article again, or having the background.

    If it's true, I believe the change in the "personality" or "culture" of Sony reflects the decision that they made to make the head of their copyright/media division the head of the company. I believe their shareholders have been paying for that decision ever since.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"