Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Frank Rose @ Wired gets Sony's situation spot-on

Frank's article personifies my feelings on Sony as a company quite well. There's several choice quotes I can take from the article that I have to post before further comment:
[The] PR fiascoes tend to be a sign that [Sony's not] thinking about the customer.

With DVD players now in 85 percent of US homes, sales fell in 2005 for the first time - so some manufacturers may need a next-gen disc player, but it's not clear consumers do.

Of course, with stand-alone Blu-ray players starting at $1,000, the PS3 is actually a bargain - if a Blu-ray player is what you really want. If not, $600 is a lot of money.

Sony has always been at its best as a personal hardware company, coming up with nifty gadgets that delight consumers. In recent decades, though, it's become oddly fixated on imposing its own standards -– Betamax for VCRs, the Mini-Disc for digital music players, the Universal Media Disc for PlayStation Portable, the Memory Stick for anything you can think of - despite the world's unwavering rejection of those standards.

Continue reading...

Sony has never displayed an aptitude for software or had great success with networking, the key feature Microsoft has built into the Xbox.

One prominent industry figure, not associated with a console maker, recalls having lunch a couple of months ago with a game-company development chief who wondered aloud if Sony was going to pull a Sega - that is, go from number one console manufacturer to out of the business.

Sony Electronics needs to embrace the networked world, obviously, but does it really need to be allied with a Hollywood film studio and a consumer-wary global music label in a global campaign against Microsoft? Probably not. It just needs to make cool products for the century we live in.

I liked Sony products a lot better when they were high-end, reliable, and did one or two things really well. The "Sony = good" association from the 90's seemed to disolve around the turn of the century. While Sony is still able to produce some great Television and Camera equipment, their other electronics have really lost their luster. Think "Disc Read Error" and roll your eyes. Think "Xplod" and cringe.

As mentioned in one of the above quotes, Sony's imposed standards are just not acceptable for consumers. Memory Sticks are a great example of this. Secure Digital memory is a much more widely used format than Sony's overpriced proprietary junk that only works in Sony products. It's frustrating to have a wonderful camera and then come to find that the memory it takes costs twice as much as the standard flash memory that you may already have (SD, CF). It makes for a very poor consumer experience.

Sony obviously needs to give up on setting standards for formats and get back to improving the experience like they used to. Their choices with the PS3 aren't going to help them in moving in a positive direction. Business is business, but the consumer is what keeps businesses alive. Don't forget about them.


Post a Comment

<< Home