Home Entertainment Products
These are products designed and fabricated by global
corporations who do state-of-the-art work in the area of knowledge management.
Global corporations ranging from Sony to Sega provide upgrades for existing
offerings on an ongoing basis.
Computer games are a product line that can become obsolete within
months of being brought into the market. This is aggravated by the fierce
competition among knowledge management global corporations. In October 2000 Sony
released its PlayStation 2, a technological improvement over its original
PlayStation. By this time, computer games had become a US~$20 billion a year
global business. Sony had sold 75 million original PlayStations. PlayStation 2
was not only a new offering in computer games, but had a 128-bit processor. The
original PlayStation had only a 32-bit processor. The high-powered processor of
PlayStation 2 enables it to play CDs and DVDs and can be used with components
that permit Internet access and the use of digital cameras and digital music
players. With this, computer games fabrication moved to an era where the units
could become part of a composite home entertainment unit. PlayStation 2 was put
on the market even though it did not have a modem. In other words, it was put on
the market even though Sony had not taken PlayStation 2's innovative features to
their logical conclusion. Meanwhile Sega
introduced its computer game Dreamcast, which was compatible with Internet
usage. However, Dreamcast was less powerful than PlayStation 2.
The worldwide market preferred Sony's PlayStation 2 to Sega's
Magazine (2001a) reported that while Sony was the market leader with a
66 per cent share, Sega had only 14 per cent of the market.
Various consequences for Sega arose out of this preference and the
fact that for four consecutive years it had been making huge losses. The chief
consequence was that its image as a loss-making entity made independent
game-developing companies steer clear of it. This meant that although Sega had
state-of-the-art game consoles for sale, it had no takers because not many
customers were interested in the games that were sold with the game
This was an ironic turn of events for Sega, given that it is one
of the pioneers who developed the game console. It is continuing to do
pioneering work in the area of hardware development. It is working on making its
game console platform compatible with mobile phones and personal digital
What the experience of Sega suggests is that knowledge management
cannot be divorced from general management principles. It may be tempting for
knowledge workers to work on technological innovations that are marvels, and
developing them can afford them tremendous satisfaction. However, the realities
in the market and the preferences of consumers may be entirely different. And if
consumers are not prepared to buy technological marvels, the company that has
developed them cannot generate profits. As far as consumer games are concerned,
consumers want the game to have appeal. The other features merely serve as
Computer games global corporations are competing to make games
aligned with digital home entertainment systems. They are also competing in
another arena: that of the actual computer games. These games must have a
certain durability of appeal to make them worth playing. The issues facing
intercultural management here are:
Expertise in knowledge management is more difficult to
acquire than expertise in intercultural management. Companies engage in a war
for talent when it comes to attracting and retaining skilled knowledge
management personnel. Such personnel are sought out from the whole world.
Global corporations can impart intercultural skills to their
knowledge management personnel after they have been recruited.
The training that knowledge management personnel receive is
often obtained from higher education institutes that cater to an international
student body (Time Magazine, 2000a).
An interesting offshoot of the intercultural usage of computer
games is intercultural access to music via platforms like Playstation. There are
composers today who write cross-cultural music for computer games, and in the
process acquire fans from all over the world. The Playstation presents music in
a format comparable to CD sound quality, which makes it an attractive medium for
popularizing modern music.
Time Magazine (2001e) has described a successful
composer of this modern genre, the Japanese Nobuo Uematsu. Uematsu's
compositions have won international acclaim and have been appreciated by people
from diverse cultures. Some of his pieces of music have been so popular that
they have been released as singles all over the world. Part of the reason for
his cross-cultural appeal lies in Uematsu's ability to imbue his music with
'grandeur and depth', an ability that seems to have universal appeal. His tunes
are robust and emotive with a strong melody that is catchy. They also have
complex layers that appeal to a more discerning audience.