Dream of one became game of millions

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 April, 2001, 12:00am

Revolutionaries at Sony

By Reiji Asakura

Published by McGraw-Hill

The immense popularity of the PlayStation video game console can be gauged from the fact that the second version of the console has more pending orders than Sony can produce.

In many countries there has been a thriving black market for the popular video game digital graphic player. In Hong Kong, it is expected to be available later in the year.

Revolutionaries at Sony is a stylishly written book, tracing the history and origins of the most popular video game console ever manufactured.

With all the drama of a page-turning adventure story - and full of vital, real-world insights for anyone seeking to learn more about the nature of hi-tech innovation - Reiji Asakura's thrilling account captures the secrets, the conflicts and strategies behind an astonishing business and technological triumph.

Asakura writes that in the beginning, the creator of the PlayStation, Ken Kutaragi, an engineer at Sony, faced stiff opposition to his work on a revolutionary type of gaming console based on high-end digital video graphics.

At Sony he was told by executives that they were not interested in venturing into the hard-to-please consumer market. They also pointed out big failures such as Atari and Commodore 64.

But, despite such negativity, Mr Kutaragi was not discouraged and under the auspices of the newly formed Sony Computer Entertainment Division, he assembled a talented team of marketers, state-of-the-art designers and digital engineers.

Within four short years, they not only managed a successful foray into the gaming market, they ended up absolutely dominating it.

Throughout the entire history of 20th-century business, Sony's tremendous growth performance through the 1990s was virtually unmatched. The book shows the reader exactly how and why it happened, giving them an unprecedented inside look at the ground breaking creation and marketing of what has since become the world's top selling game machine.

This authorised book also examines Mr Kutaragi's rare combination of passion and pragmatism, detailing how he made full use of corporate resources, how he worked in vain to initially sell the concept to Nintendo and how he ultimately kept the project alive.

Culminating in a refreshingly straightforward chapter showcasing Mr Kutaragi's tried-and-true business advice for entrepreneurs who aspire to similar record-breaking triumphs, Revolutionaries delivers an interestingly detailed portrait of corporate genius and a top-to-bottom blueprint for venture business success.

The writer is a business journalist and the vice-chairman of Japan Image Quality Society. He is also an expert on future trends in technology.