Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sony's Woes

Sony's CEO Howard Stringer offered some explanation of why the company he works for has done such a good job of sucking over the last five years or so. This prompted me to rant a bit about something I've been meaning to write about for some time.

Sony has missteped so many times in the last few years it's hard to know where to begin. Their proprietary, go through us, Sony is the hub of all electronic entertainment approach to everything has led to the rise and fall of a handful of trademarks that starts with a product that sets a thesis statement for my point…the Betamax. Since that well documented failure Sony has stubbornly used the same mentality and marketing approach, and subsequently failed with: ATRAC, the MiniDisk, UMD and the currently failing PSP, the Connect Digital Music project, the SACD format which died along side it's rival DVD Audio and the Sony Network Walkman, which when finally introduced didn’t even support MP3 files. These failures are complimented by further stupidity such as their stubbornness to even enter the digital audio market (which Stringer mentions in a more flattering way), shipping a rootkit on one of their audio CD’s and recently, exploding batteries.

The Sony Corp. CEO revealed that a lot of the negativity surrounding both recent challenges for the company is the result of internal strife in the company and a cultural disconnect between Sony CEO Howard Stringer and his Japanese executive team.
Sony is just one big dysfunctional foreign exchange family right now, they need some counseling quick. The Nintendo Wii is saturating entry level gaming devices. The Xbox is stronger than ever and was in the marketplace sooner, once again due to a Sony debacle. One they may never be able to recover from. The HD disk wars are far from over. Stringer seems to be overly optimistic about Blu-Ray, but I’m not, even though they have gained some ground lately and technically offer a superior product (like Betamax). Not to mention the success or failure of one of these two products could, and probably will impact that of the other. The PS3 uses Blu-Ray disks and if the PS3 where booming, that many more people would automatically be Blu-Ray movie users.

I don’t hate Sony. Everyone (over the age of 20) has fond memories of their Walkman. Sony's Trinitron technology is legendary. Up until recently they have had the best gaming console bar none. They make great digital cameras (despite the proprietary Memory Sticks) and video cameras. Strangely enough their VAIO computers, although overpriced, are great as well as stylish and finally their line of Bravia XBR LCD televisions are arguably the best on the market. However something needs to change at a very high level for Sony to get back on track, recover from their recent blunders and regain the love of this geek and I’m sure many others.

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