A posting penned by Anthony Zumpano on the Brandchannel blog does a great job of articulating the latest holiday supply snafu involving Sony.  The consumer electronics producer who recently announced its Reader Daily Edition e-reader device is warning consumers that component shortages will delay shipment of the devices until at least December 18, if not later.

In his posting, Anthony comments that this is nothing new for Sony.  “In 2000, it was the PlayStation 2. In 2005, the PlayStation Portable.  In 2006, the PlayStation 3. This year, it’s the Sony e-Reader that many people want, but few will be able to get in time for the holidays.” He nicely puts to bed the conspiracy theory notion that these shortages are purposely created to create hype among consumers.  While the Barnes and Noble Nook device is experiencing similar supply shortages, Amazon’s revamped Kindle is “in-stock”.

As a supply chain industry analyst in 2005 and 2006, I often commented on the supply chain challenges of Sony, in light of its consumer electronics competitors.  Combinations of a rather complex electronic component design and other missteps fueled the shortages and Sony paid the price in market share loss to both Nintendo and Microsoft. Sony can ill afford to play out this same scenario for the upcoming 2009 holiday season. To Sony’s defense, Supply Chain Matters has previously commented on recent high-tech industry reports that spot component shortages are indeed showing-up in many areas because of previous severe cutbacks in capacity and production levels brought on by the global recession. The ongoing message is that traditional planning and product marketing strategies will not suffice in this new era of post-recession recovery.

Supply chain actions, as always, will tell the final story.  Perhaps Sony’s supply chain team, along with the FedEx and UPS air force will save the day for sales and marketing.  Stay tuned for the results.

Bob Ferrari