Once a profit-making powerhouse, Japan's electronics industry has since fallen on hard financial times, as Samsung and other competitors have encroached upon a market previously dominated by manufacturers like Sharp, Sony, and Panasonic. In an article published this week, Bloomberg Businessweek draws a compelling parallel between the Japanese tech industry and Detroit's auto manufacturers, noting that both industries, after achieving domestic hegemony, were content to sit on their laurels rather than keep up with shifting consumer demands. In Detroit, the issue was a redundancy of similar cars, while Japanese companies have thus far focused on hardware that has already proven successful.
“Japanese companies innovated primarily on hardware and the device and they were fantastic at that,” said Peter Kenevan, a Tokyo-based director at McKinsey. “The problem is, the key engine of innovation in the world has shifted from hardware to software, to systems, to solutions.”