Sony is a Japanese electronics and media distribution company headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. As a major technology company, it operates as one of the world's largest manufacturer of consumer and professional electronic products, the largest video game console company and the largest video game publsiher. It is one of the world's largest conglomerates.
Among its subsidiaries is Sony Interactive Entertainment (formerly Sony Computer Entertainment) - best known for producing the popular line of PlayStation consoles. Launched in 1994, the first PlayStation gained 61% of global console sales and broke Nintendo's long-standing lead in the market. Sony followed up with the PlayStation 2 in 2000, which was even more successful. The PS2 has become the most successful console of all time, selling over 150 million units as of 2011. Sony released the PlayStation 3 in 2006, and extended the brand to the portable games market in 2004 with the PlayStation Portable (PSP), and the PlayStation Vita would follow in 2011 and 2012. The PlayStation 4 was released in 2013, and a VR headset for the PS4 was released in 2014. The fifth console in the lineup - the PlayStation 5 - was released in 2020.
They are also the creator of different media formats, such as Blu-Ray Discs and UMDs, which they have been using in their video game consoles and handhelds.
Sony Corporation is the electronics business unit and the parent company of the Sony Group, which is engaged in business through its five operating segments — electronics, games, entertainment (motion pictures and music), financial services and other. These make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony's principal business operations include Sony Corporation (Sony Electronics in the U.S.), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Sony Ericsson and Sony Financial Holdings. As a semiconductor maker, Sony is among the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders.
In 1994, Sony launched its first console, the PlayStation (later PS one). This successful console was succeeded by the PlayStation 2 in 2000, itself succeeded by the PlayStation 3 in 2006. The PlayStation brand was extended to the portable games market in 2005 by the PlayStation Portable. Sony developed the Universal Media Disc (UMD) optical disc medium for use on the PlayStation Portable. Although Sony tried to push the UMD format for movies, major studios stopped supporting the format in the Spring of 2006.
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the PlayStation (PS) gaming console in Italy, Sony released an ad depicting a man smiling towards the camera and wearing on his head a crown of thorns with button symbols (Δ, O, X, □). At the bottom, the copy read as "Ten Years of Passion". This outraged the Vatican as well as many local Catholics, prompting comments such as "Sony went too far" and "Vatican excommunicates Sony". After the incident, the campaign was quickly discontinued.
Sony also admitted in late 2005 to hiring graffiti artists to spray paint advertisements for their PlayStation Portable game system in seven major U.S. cities including New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. The mayor of Philadelphia has filed a cease and desist order and may file a criminal complaint. According to Sony, they are paying businesses and building owners for the right to graffiti their walls. As of early January 2006, Sony has no plans to keep or withdraw them.
In July 2006, Sony released a Dutch advertising campaign featuring a white model dressed entirely in white and a black model garbed in black. The first ad featured the white model clutching the face of the black model. The words "White is coming" headlined one of the ads. The ad has been viewed as racist by critics. A Sony spokesperson responded that the ad does not have a racist message, saying that it was only trying to depict the contrast between the black PSP model and the new ceramic white PSP. Other pictures of the ad campaign include the black model overpowering the white model.
In November 2006, a marketing company employed by Sony created a website entitled "All I want for Xmas is a PSP", designed to promote the PSP through viral marketing. The site contained a blog, which was purportedly written by "Charlie", a teenager attempting to get his friend "Jeremy"'s parents to buy him a PSP, providing links to t-shirt iron-ons, Christmas cards, and a "music video" of either Charlie or Jeremy "rapping". However, visitors to the website soon discovered that the website was registered to a marketing company, exposing the site on sites such as YouTube and digg, and Sony was forced to admit the site's true origin in a post on the blog, stating that they would from then on "stick to making cool products" and that they would use the website for "the facts on the PSP". The site has since been taken down. In an interview with next-gen.biz, Sony admitted that the idea was "poorly executed".
On April 29, 2007, at the God of War II launch party, a dead goat was featured as the parties' centerpiece.
In 2002, Sony Computer Entertainment America, marketer of the popular PlayStation game consoles, was sued by Immersion Corp. of San Jose, California which claimed that Sony's PlayStation "Dual Shock" controllers infringed on Immersion's patents. In 2004, a federal jury agreed with Immersion, awarding the company US$82 million in damages. A U.S. district court judge ruled on the matter in March, 2005 and not only agreed with the federal jury's ruling but also added another US$8.7 million in damages. This is likely the reason that the controller for the PlayStation 3 has no rumble feature. Microsoft Corp. was also sued for its Xbox controller, however, unlike Sony, they settled out of court. Washington Post: Pay Judgment Or Game Over, Sony Warned
A California judge ordered Sony to pay Immersion a licensing fee of 1.37 percent per quarter based on the sales of PlayStation units, Dual Shock controllers, and a selection of PlayStation 2 games that use Immersion's technology. MS is currently suing Immersion due to an alleged breach of contract, apparently stating that MS would be entitled to a portion of any cash settlement between Sony and Immersion.