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Norio Ohga

The Founder of Sony Hired a Very Outspoken Critic of Their Products so They Could Make Better Products. After Twenty Years, the Critic, Norio Ohga, became Sony’s President.

Norio Ohga, a former opera singer who moved into consumer electronics and helped shape the development of the compact disc, rose to become chairman and CEO of Sony Corporation. But did you know why Sony hired him?

Sony’s founder hired an outspoken critic of their products in order to improve them. He became Sony’s president 20 years later.

Norio Ohga and His Story with Sony

Ohga first met Sony founders Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita while studying at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music’s Faculty of Music, now Tokyo University of the Art. Sony’s founders saw in Mr. Ohga the makings of a leader whose expert knowledge of sound and electrical engineering would greatly benefit the Company. As a result, while still a student, Mr. Ohga was appointed as a consultant and advisor to Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation, now Sony Corporation in 1953 before joining the Company full-time in 1959.

Mr. Ohga and Mr. Morita shared a deep understanding of the importance of brand management. They took every opportunity to remind employees to think first and act later, emphasizing that every decision they made impacted the Sony brand. Mr. Ohga’s favorite phrase was, “The four letters of the ‘SONY’ brand are our greatest asset.” His efforts to instill that message in every Sony employee were critical in enabling Sony to become the globally recognized brand it is today.

Mr. Ohga also oversaw the launch of Sony’s game division. Sony Computer Entertainment was founded in 1993, and the subsequent worldwide success of the PlayStation quickly secured Sony’s position at the forefront of this industry. (Source: Engadget)

Norio Ohga, the Father of the Compact Disc

Ohga was also a visionary and forerunner. He drove Sony’s initiatives to explore this new frontier, anticipating the future potential of compact optical disc formats. Mr. Ohga’s instincts as a trained musician led him to push for a 12-centimeter format during the CD’s development, providing enough recording capacity at 75 minutes to allow listeners to enjoy all of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony without interruption.

These discussions resulted in the CD specifications that are still in use today. After Sony released the world’s first CD in 1982, sales soared, and by 1987, CDs had surpassed LP record sales in Japan, forever altering how people listened to music. Mr. Ohga’s efforts to establish the CD format also aided in the introduction of subsequent optical disc formats such as the MD, CD-ROM, and DVD, which revolutionized not only the consumer electronics and music recording industries but also other areas of technology such as computer memory and game software.

Mr. Ohga worked tirelessly after joining Sony to improve product quality, functionality, and design, while also revolutionizing the Company’s marketing and advertising initiatives, paving the way for launching a series of innovative and game-changing products. 

Mr. Ohga was a staunch supporter of creating products that were attractive in the eyes of consumers, a philosophy that came to represent the principles of Sony’s approach to design and engineering and was critical to the Company’s worldwide success and growth. (Source: Engadget

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