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What’s The Matter With Sony?

June 25, 2006

I have written off their Playstation III (PS3) because it’s going to be too expensive; their Playstation Portable (PSP) is a loser because it’s also too expensive; I never liked their PDAs or digital cameras because they insisted on using their own proprietary flash memory in them. What the heck is Sony’s problem?

They’re making products for themselves and not for us, that’s what.

How did their PS3 get so expensive? There was an interesting discussion about that at slashdot a while back. Basically, they wanted to “leverage” the popularity of the Playstation to further their other business interests – their Blu-ray DVD standard, for example. That’s expensive technology.

What makes their Playstation portable so expensive? It lacks focus as a gaming machine and has tried to be a movie player as well. Why would the Playstation guys want to make a movie-watching machine? Probably because Sony’s movie division wanted to “leverage” the popularity of the Playstation franchise. So they made the thing large and expensive and then sold proprietary format movies for it that nobody wanted.

What about their cameras and PDAs? Instead of using industry-standard flash memory technology like compact flash (CF) or secure digital (SD) they insisted on using their very own memory, “memory stick.” Since nobody else really used memory stick memory in their devices, the demand for them never took off enough to bring prices down. So they were always more expensive than other types of memory. And you have to ask yourself: will that kind of memory be around in a couple of years? Who knows. Wise shoppers shied away from devices that used it.

Sony has a pattern of trying to use a successful product to shore up sales of another product or business. More often than not it has not worked. Instead it has tended to damage the sales of their successful products.

Maybe they should split off some of these divisions into separate companies? It’s a thought. what do I know, I don’t have an MBA. I just know Sony has a problem.

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