Is Sony Losing its Touch?

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
An extremely negative review of Sony's new "Connect" music store here.



For my money, this seems to follow a pattern of Sony missteps over the last decade or so.



It started with terrible quality control problems-- as a person that purchases a great deal of equipment for various organizations, I can attest that it became almost impossible to recommend anything from Sony's consumer electronics division (pro broadcast is another matter) because a given item would almost certainly stop working after about 6 months.



Then there were the forays into odd, proprietary formats such as "Digital 8" and memory sticks and ATRAC encoding.



The minidisc format never really took off as the mainstream analogue cassette replacement Sony intended, although it has had some success after its "relaunch" as a portable multitrack medium.



Also, there seems to be a penchant at Sony for piling on with the bells and whistles to the point that the price point goes north and their machines get difficult to operate. It seems like a kind of "look what we can do" attitude that isn't very attentive to their markets.



Finally, in an era where Panasonic, Cannon, Samsung, et al are offering very competitive designs in most of the areas where Sony once had a comfortable lead (display devices, camcorders, digital cameras, video playback sources, etc.), Sony still seems to believe that it can charge a premium based on the mystique of their brand name.



The shambles of the "Connect" offering strikes me as emblematic of all that has gone wrong at Sony.



Any thoughts?
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    kung fu guykung fu guy Posts: 158member
    Sony is a strange animal. They can afford to have a few misses and blunders. And still maintain their number one position. Once they get a hit product, all the strangeness begins. They produce endless number of varients in all shapes, sizes, colours, bells and whistles.
  • Reply 2 of 23
    ast3r3xast3r3x Posts: 5,012member
    I enjoy my Sony headphones, and as far as CD players went...Sony was unbeatable...probably still is, but with my iPod, what do I care anymore?



    While it may have been good, I've never really liked Sony's interface for any of their products besides my CD player. Receivers, and other stuff I just didn't like. (NEVER have liked any remote control from them...ever)



    I have always liked AIWA's interfaces though. I am real pissed that they stopped selling receivers. Then again I feel that AIWA beat everyone for remote controls for stereo's or receivers. I am not sure they still do a good job though, haven't seen any recent stuff from them lately.
  • Reply 3 of 23
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kung Fu Guy

    Sony is a strange animal. They can afford to have a few misses and blunders. And still maintain their number one position. Once they get a hit product, all the strangeness begins. They produce endless number of varients in all shapes, sizes, colours, bells and whistles.



    That's very true, but it brings up another point: is it really a great way to run a business to make all those product iterations?



    It seems like you just end up confusing your market space. After the original walkman, are there really any products that you associate first with Sony?



    Compare that with Apple's management of the iPod-- razor sharp focus, clear product differentiation, and tight coupling of the device to the brand.



    I suspect that Sony is under the sway of its engineers and doesn't do enough to sort out what people actually want. They just do it all and lay it out there.

    Know anybody that actually owns those LCD/glasses things? (I forgot what they call them-- glasstron or something). Do they even make them anymore? Does anybody care?



    Ever think to by a pair of Sony headphones? Well, you better know what you want, cause they make about 100 of them priced at $1.00 increments.



    And in the space where they clearly dominated--televisions--they have been slow to move into flat screen displays where the action is. Who do you associate with top quality plasmas? Samsung? Panasonic? Certainly not Sony.



    Maybe all this works in the Japanese market, but Sony used to have the American market pretty well figured out, it seemed.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    homhom Posts: 1,098member
    Sony lost its focus in the mid 90's. Their idea was to control media consumption across all layers. Sony Picture would make and distribute the movie, which would be seen in a Sony Lowes movie theater, bought on DVD, and played on a Sony DVD player connected to a Sony TV and stereo system. The problem is that Sony quickly left its core competency and moved into areas where the Sony brand didn't mean much of anything. There are also competing interest within the company now. Sony Records prevented consumer products from entering into the MP3 space at a time when Sony could have made a difference. Looking at that review of Connect, it's doomed to failure and I would guess it is going to be done by the end of the year.



    Seems like the only area where the Sony brand is still worth something is Pro video and they are quickly losing that to Panasonic.
  • Reply 5 of 23
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    My wife was the PM on the renovation of a auditorium. They installed Sony stuff for the AV and it didn't work. Not sure who to blame and she came close to firing the installers over it. I guess it came up working in the end?
  • Reply 6 of 23
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,215member
    Yes I can say I'm disappointed with Sony as well. I used to have a minidisc and it was a cool product but Sony mismarketed it. They should have marketed the 140MB MD Data discs and the Audio MDs at the same time and made all drives aimed at the computer compatible with Data/Audio. No instead they decide to keep the two seperate. Real smart.



    Sony TVs used to be head and shoulders above the comp. The only TV that I saw that could complete was Panasonics High Contrast Superflat series.



    Fast forward today and Sony, while having great styling, is equal at best with companies like Samsung and Pioneer.



    Sony still does well in Camcorders and Cameras because they make CCDs.



    If I had my druthers today I would buy



    a Pioneer DVD/SACD/DVDA universal player

    a Rotel Audio/Video receiver

    A Samsung DLP Rear Projector

    A Sony Front Screen Projector

    A iPod for portable player

    For headphones(Denon for bass) or Sennheiser





    Lot's of options beyond just Sony. They better start competing. But what are they doing to reverse the trend. Nothing



    Blu Ray could be a kick ass product but Sony wants to shackle great hardware with MPEG2 which negates the great space advantage. Makes no sense. But that's the "new" Sony
  • Reply 7 of 23
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    I've been warned away from Sony (consumer) components from years. The local audiophile shop (who do really good work - they restored a beautiful old handmade turntable for me) said that they were basically boombox electronics in component cases with component prices; they stopped carrying the brand shortly afterward.



    Really, Sony has had a pro presence, and one freak consumer hit with the Walkman, and after that, what? PlayStation? The Walkman was a tightly focused product that answered a specific desire on the part of a Sony executive. Most of their other efforts look more like Apple's Performa lineup, or pre-shakeup Motorola cell phones. The hardware of their smaller VAIO laptops is nice, but the software is an afterthought.



    I've always kind of wondered about Steve's fixation with Sony. The company doesn't impress me. Maybe they're executing a lot better in Japan, because over here at least I can barely remember the last time I really did a double-take at a Sony product. Granted, I don't come into contact with their pro stuff.
  • Reply 8 of 23
    kraig911kraig911 Posts: 912member
    Sony kind of had the market tapped I think, esp with walkmens and then the first cd-walkmen, and the the minidisc but one thing i can tell you is that they had the AV market cornered there for awhile.



    I mess with my fricken SONY betacam deck everyday effin day at work, you may be asking betacam? wtf? no no you're thinking betamax their consumer version that VHS won over. Betacam is the standard for SD Broadcast, and they also now have Digibeta and other standards too, thank god for panasonic is all I gotta say they keep at it even tho the big stations are tied into sony support and upgrade contracts.



    I think what sony has lost is its passion about cool gear and more on content. The only thing they keep innovating is their video games, and their console systems. They are doing things in PRO-AV which is neat but not necessarily wonderful. They do make some killer HD stuff which I'll never be able to afford but still. They are spending an incredible amount in RD I bet on something, and hopefully that something is robots!
  • Reply 9 of 23
    homhom Posts: 1,098member
    If I'm not mistaken Sony Computer Entertainment, the Playstation division, is the only profitable division within Sony now. All other areas including consumer and pro audio/video, Sony Pictures, and the rest are losing cash hand over fist, but the PS2 is keeping them afloat.
  • Reply 10 of 23
    Quote:

    Originally posted by HOM

    If I'm not mistaken Sony Computer Entertainment, the Playstation division, is the only profitable division within Sony now. All other areas including consumer and pro audio/video, Sony Pictures, and the rest are losing cash hand over fist, but the PS2 is keeping them afloat.



    but they still make the PSone, the PSone with the lcd screen in it, the PS2, working on the PS3 as well as the PSP. I bet they sytill keep em all at the same time, for fear of someone not having the perfect product for them.



    I agree -- i used to think of sony as the top dog in a few areas, and with the exception of car audio, i would almost always choose them in electronics 10 years ago. now? there is not one single product that i wouuld choose sony over anyone else. not one.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    At this point perception is what keeps Sony afloat in some markets.



    For instance, if you look at a video oriented discussion board such as 2-pop, you'll see a lot of people in the market for a "prosumer" camcorder will just automatically gravitate to Sony. Now, At the higher end Sony does make some good dv camcorders, but they cost more than the direct competition and I can't see where they put a better picture on the screen.



    In broadcast video Sony has long been sort of the IBM, as in nobody ever got fired for buying Beta SP or DigiBeta, but Panasonic is making strong inroads with their DVCpro format, and now DVC-HD (or whatever they call it) having introduced their HD over firewire deck at NAB.



    Sony will probably remain the marquee brand at the very high end of video cameras and decks for a while, but I wonder if they can even hang on to that, with more nimble companies innovating upwards from underneath (think Avid and FPC).
  • Reply 12 of 23
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Sony is just too big to manage this transition. They don't seem to have the leaders to point the ship in a direction with regard to a given market, and one hand doesn't know what the other is doing. Their audio people know nothing of their computer people who know nothing of their software people, they have different lawyers for each I'm sure, and they can't get on the same page. It's just too big a ship to steer I think.



    Jobs admired Morita, and wants to lead like him. That's why he admires Sony, or more accurately, who he admired in Sony.
  • Reply 13 of 23
    resres Posts: 711member
    On the consumer level Sony's camcorders are still a bit ahead of the pack, but for most other things they are pretty mediocre. I'm not sure if it is do to the other companies improving, or Sony just messing up.
  • Reply 14 of 23
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,215member
    Yup they've definitely lost it





    http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/2004/05/10/sony/



    By using Sony's Sonic Stage or Music Move software, both of which are bundled with the player, tracks in MP3, Windows Media Audio or WAV audio file formats can be converted into ATRAC and uploaded to the player. The software is compatible with Windows 98SE, 2000, ME, XP Home and XP Professional operating systems.



    The Vaio Pocket is both larger and heavier than the comparable 20GB iPod model from Apple.



    The Vaio Pocket measures 115 millimeters by 63 millimeters by 17 millimeters, compared to the iPod's 104 millimeters by 61 millimeters by 16 millimeters. The Vaio Pocket weighs in at 195 grams, which is heavier than the iPod at 158 grams, according to information from Sony and Apple.



    In the area of battery life the Vaio Pocket easily beats the iPod, offering around 20 hours of playback compared to the iPod's 8 hours.



    The Vaio Pocket will go on sale in Japan on June 5 for around ¥53,000 (US$472). There are no plans to sell it outside Japan at this point.




    No iPod killer here.
  • Reply 15 of 23
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    Yup they've definitely lost it





    http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/2004/05/10/sony/



    By using Sony's Sonic Stage or Music Move software, both of which are bundled with the player, tracks in MP3, Windows Media Audio or WAV audio file formats can be converted into ATRAC and uploaded to the player. The software is compatible with Windows 98SE, 2000, ME, XP Home and XP Professional operating systems.



    The Vaio Pocket is both larger and heavier than the comparable 20GB iPod model from Apple.



    The Vaio Pocket measures 115 millimeters by 63 millimeters by 17 millimeters, compared to the iPod's 104 millimeters by 61 millimeters by 16 millimeters. The Vaio Pocket weighs in at 195 grams, which is heavier than the iPod at 158 grams, according to information from Sony and Apple.



    In the area of battery life the Vaio Pocket easily beats the iPod, offering around 20 hours of playback compared to the iPod's 8 hours.



    The Vaio Pocket will go on sale in Japan on June 5 for around ¥53,000 (US$472). There are no plans to sell it outside Japan at this point.








    No iPod killer here.




    This thing is a great example of Sony's odd cluelessness.



    It has that weird "high tech/pointlessly complicated" interface they seem to favor, looks like it was designed by some committee of "what the kids dig"/lifestyle gurus, doesn't compete on cost in the market it supposedly is entering, and is needlessly tied to Sony's in house format.



    I think the world has moved on without them and somebody forgot to send the memo.
  • Reply 16 of 23
    evoevo Posts: 198member
    I wonder why the Sony player has such better battery life (20 hrs) compared to the iPod (8 hrs), considering it also has an LCD. Does this mean the iPod's batter really sucks or the Sony's is really good?
  • Reply 17 of 23
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by eVo

    I wonder why the Sony player has such better battery life (20 hrs) compared to the iPod (8 hrs), considering it also has an LCD. Does this mean the iPod's batter really sucks or the Sony's is really good?



    Perhaps the larger, heavier Sony has 22 cc and 37 grams more battery?
  • Reply 18 of 23
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Doesn't it use minidiscs or somesuch? I imagine that minidiscs must soak up less power than a hard drive.
  • Reply 19 of 23
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BuonRotto

    Doesn't it use minidiscs or somesuch? I imagine that minidiscs must soak up less power than a hard drive.



    I think Sony does have a minidisc player that's meant to compete in the high-capacity MP3 player market, but what just came out from Sony is their first hard drive model. No minidisc, just a hard drive.
  • Reply 20 of 23
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    That would explain the lack of coverage about that aspect of it. I couldn't find anything to confirm or deny it specifically upon glancing at the MacCentral article.
Sign In or Register to comment.