Let’s talk ‘SONY’

What the brand was, and what it is now.

Remember the time when you had the TV adverts coming up and one of them was about a new Sony product? Remember how it ended? I’ll refresh your memory: “It’s a Sony.” And indeed it was, but let’s be absolutely honest here, this catch-phrase doesn’t have the same impact as it had in the eighties and nineties does it?

Before firing my ranting arsenal at Sony, I’d like to state both to myself and anyone reading that they do make good quality products still and I won’t say otherwise in this article, but they definitely don’t have that techie ‘edge’ any more,  not to mention they severely overprice their products just for brand-sake. Several examples can be found of Sony products having higher prices on laptops and TV’s with the same (or better) specs and quality of competitors like Toshiba, Samsung or LG. That’s but one reason that’s been dragging Sony through the mud recently, because there’s a lot more…

Another reason would be ‘forcing’ proprietary media upon consumers, thus making them loose some fidelity from the target audience, like the introduction of Sony’s memory stick pro duo cards instead of simply allowing the use of  SD cards which can be used in pretty much anything, except – conveniently enough – Sony products. So instead of making their products dynamic and open to other media sources and formats, they restrict it to only their own, bold move Sony, bold move.

Same case with the PSVita now in 2012, with it’s own proprietary memory sticks, extremely pricey (as expected) in order to make people buy their Sony addons and peripherals to use on their own Sony products.
Have you bought a PS Vita? Great. Want to download games online for it because it’s cheaper to buy the digital version? Ok, but you need room for all that, so don’t forget to buy one of the new memory sticks. Don’t want to spend money on the memory sticks? Well, ok, buy the retail disc version of the game then, albeit more expensive.

It’s a never-ending loop of how to extract as much currency as possible from the consumers, and how can they get away with it so far? a) People actually vote for it with their wallet and buy it. b) Piracy! The whole memory stick thing on the PSP and Vita revolves around avoiding piracy as their scapegoat, which is not entirely true since they know just as well as we do the Vita memory sticks will be hacked and duped eventually. If Sony wanted to really fight piracy they would, inventing new memory sticks doesn’t solve the problem, merely delays it, and they know it all to well.

Another – in my opinion bad – business decision would be the Blu-ray, Toshiba and affiliated partners were already half way through implementing and defining HD-DVD as the next gen movie viewing standard superseding the DVD format, yet Sony remembered to intervene; “Wait! we want in on this race too” and brought in the Blu-Ray in a war that lasted too long between the two formats, and the main victim here was the consumer as always. They’ve lost in the Beta/VHS fight but they couldn’t leave it like that, they had to try again, and this time they won, how good for them, making money one day at a time by imposing their proprietary media on the market.

I suppose the difference between Apple and Sony is that Apple actually gets away with all the overpricing and over-rated hardware because they actually innovate here and there and they have amazing products – gimmicky and overpriced – but still great, no debate there. Sony on the other hand… They do not hold the edge on technology any more to actually demand the prices they do.
Even their 3D TV’s do not use what is considered by a lot of reviewers as the best (and inexpensive) 3D imaging tech available, Passive 3D (LG’s) versus Active 3D (Sony).

I also can’t let this article go without shaking my head to their Gaming branch. We can’t forget that the PS3 flopped on release due to (again) overpricing and was later dumbed down (partially due to user complaints I’ll give it that) into a cheaper build material/less ports/no backwards compatibility version. What was one of the best aspects and selling point of the PS2 was the Doom for the PS3. No wonder they want to name the next one differently.

The Playstation Move was another ‘ginourmous’ flop, literally copying the Wii’s control scheme in order to win some of that casual market-share, at least Microsoft didn’t blatantly copy Nintendo’s Wiimotes & Nunchuk with the Kinect. So where’s the PSMove now? Right, in that second hand goods drawer in my shop gathering dust, that one in the corner where we store our stool because no one uses that drawer anyway.

This is Sony now, in 2012 and has been for the past 8 to 10 years, imitating rather then innovating, creating good (but not excellent or ground-breaking) products with over the top price tags. No, saying “It’s a Sony” definitely doesn’t have the same impact as it did in the Walkman, Trinitron or PSX age.


3 responses to “Let’s talk ‘SONY’

  1. Either you or a friend linked to this article from GI International. Great take and I’ve had some really similar thoughts over the last few years concerning Sony. Excellent insight there.

    P.S. Spell check seems not to recognize ‘loose’ as a misspelling of ‘lose’. Great reason to proofread personally.

  2. That Sony is such a bad state has a lot of reasons

    A the biggest one is the culture and way the company is organized. That resulted in endless turf wars instead of focusing on combining the strengths of Sony’s divisions to make great products. They killed the Digital Walkman (Apple came later with the iPod) because of politics

    B the marketing talent and presence of Sony has been stripped out. Sony was everywhere and had simple, smart effective marketing messages. It’s a Sony, the legendary PlayStation campaigns. Nowadays and even the last years I have not seen (of been aware of any Sony marketing).

    C both in e-tail and retail there is a very diminished presence of Sony. You can sump up it nicely with the line from the Song

    Gotye. Sony “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know”

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