Sony Will Slash Number Of Product Parts

By Agence France-Presse Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp. said Oct. 7 it will cut the number of product parts by 90% to 100,000 by the end of 2005 in a bid to boost cost-competitiveness, but some observers warn that too much standardization could harm the brand's image among consumers. Of the 100,000, some 20,000 standard parts excel in terms of quality and cost and the company will put them in a database so engineers can readily choose them, a Sony spokeswoman said. With the reduction in product parts, Sony aims to cut the number of component suppliers to 1,000 from 4,700, she said. "The percentage [reduction] is remarkable, although cutting the number of parts is not a new strategy with automakers, and precision machinery manufacturers such as Canon and Ricoh . . . [are] already doing it," Mitsuhiro Osawa, analyst at Mizuho Investors said. Osawa said, however, that Sony may have to be careful as too much standardization of parts could deprive the firm of its unique design appeal for consumers. "Separately from cost matters, what popped up in my mind is the fact that common platforms can sometimes make products look more similar." Another Japanese high-tech firm, Toshiba, last month announced plans to reduce the number of motherboard types in its personal computers by 30% and the component count by 20% to encourage greater use of common parts. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2003

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