What’s going on?
Sony reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings on Wednesday, even if the entertainment giant’s friendly neighbourhood PlayStations are still nowhere to be seen.
What does this mean?
Nature is healing: lockdowns are receding, doors are reopening, and… well, turns out people are still just kind of staying indoors. That’s fine by Sony, whose sales and operating profit – which grew 15% and 26% respectively compared to the same time last year – benefited from continued demand for its PS5s, TVs, movie and music services, and more. It was the confidence boost the company needed to raise its profit forecast for the year, but hitting that target will ultimately come down to its ability to produce enough PS5s to meet demand. And that’s not a given: Sony’s been struggling with the same supply issues that have been affecting everyone else.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: The ghost of hardware past.
Sony wants to use the PS5 to bridge the gap between its long-standing consumer electronics business and its high-margin (and growing) content business, which it plans to do via game downloads and subscription sign-ups. So it’s no wonder that it’s trying to diversify the content it has to offer: the company recently agreed to buy Crunchyroll – AT&T’s anime business with 3 million global subscribers – and intends to spend more than $18 billion over the next three years on other content acquisitions.
Zooming out: SoftBank sneaks up on us.
Sony isn’t the only Japanese company on a spending spree: new data out on Wednesday showed SoftBank has quietly built a $5 billion stake in pharmaceutical giant Roche. That’s not a typical investment for the Japanese conglomerate, which has historically focused on tech firms or early-stage biotech companies. SoftBank, though, might argue that it’s exactly in keeping with past investments: the firm thinks Roche’s Genentech division – which uses data to develop drugs – is highly undervalued, which means there’s money to be made.