Sony Says It Should Have Been More Open... But It Said That In 2005 Too

from the actions,-not-words... dept

There's a bunch of buzz around a recent interview with Sony's CEO Howard Stringer, where he admits that Sony should have gone with an "open" music solution from early on, and if it had done so, how it could have "beaten Apple." Sure, those sorts of quotes sound great... but it's action that matters.

Because... it was nearly four and a half years ago when we wrote about top Sony exec Ken Kutaragi saying almost the exact same thing. He talked about how Sony made a huge mistake focusing on proprietary formats and DRM and how the company was going to change and focus on more open and free solutions rather than limited DRM-encumbered solutions.

And what happened?

Not much. Sony kept DRM with things like ATRAC for three more years and continued to use DRM in a variety of different settings, including the very famous case of Sony subsidiary Sony BMG putting rootkit DRM on music CDs (which occurred months after Kutaragi's original point that Sony needed to move away from DRM).

So... consider us skeptical that Stringer's comments are meaningful. We've heard it before. If the company really is embracing a more open solution, it's time to show people, not just speak about it.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    RD, May 12th, 2009 @ 4:49pm

    Idiots

    Sony is completely run by idiots. They think they are still the #1 brand across all markets, and can charge a 25%-50% premium for the privilege. But that isnt the case, and their myopic vision needs a major correction if they hope to survive. Things like the PS3 pricing and BluRay DRM that DECREASES the user experience, add the absolute idiocy of the rootkit fiasco and these completely PR-driven "we should have done better/we promise to do better" hollow, empty "admissions" that NO ONE BELIEVES and you have a recipe for complete disaster. Bye Sony, been nice knowing you.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Tim, May 12th, 2009 @ 5:23pm

    Years ago I bought a Sony minidisc player that had USB transfer. It had just been introduced. I ended up hated ATRAC and the computer program to transfer the ATRAC music to the minidisc player. Then 5 months later I switched from PC to a Mac and discovered that there was absolutely no way I transfer music via USB to the minidisc. Take that, and other proprietary items, I made the decision never to buy a Sony product ever again.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Osno, May 12th, 2009 @ 5:32pm

    They can start by making their ebook reader work nice with pdf files, without first converting to an ugly proprietary format.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Triatomic Tortoise, May 12th, 2009 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Idiots

    No matter how much I dislike their business practice, I tend to buy one or two things from Sony still. There are some products they are really good at. At least until now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Jeff, May 12th, 2009 @ 6:04pm

    These are the same idiots that are trying to bribe Atari to only release that new Ghost Busters game for the PS3. They don't want the xbox 360 or wii to get their hands on it.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    John Doe, May 12th, 2009 @ 7:09pm

    Damn the torpedoes!

    I just wonder what would happen if a company like Sony one day decided to take their foot off the brake and slam down the gas? It would be scary (in a good way) what a company could accomplish if they just layed on the gas.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 12th, 2009 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Damn the torpedoes!

    But that's part of their problem isn't it ... too many feet pressing on different pedals at the same time

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    anonymous coward, May 12th, 2009 @ 8:29pm

    They burned their bridge with the rootkit

    Can't speak for others, but the rootkit was pretty much the nail in the coffin. No PS3 for me (owned a ps1 and two ps2's, now have a samsung BluRay player, Xbox 360 and Wii).

    Amazon Music gets my money because they offer 256kbps non-DRM mp3's and Sony can keep the ghost busters game on the ps3, that's where it belongs.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    dave, May 12th, 2009 @ 9:26pm

    unlikely to change

    They have too many competing voices in-house to be able to change.

    If the hardware side has to accept that the content side can demand DRM to be applied to all their content (which seems to be the case), they automatically lose.

     

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  10.  
    icon
    crystalattice (profile), May 12th, 2009 @ 9:41pm

    Re:

    I too lost my faith in Sony because of MiniDiscs. I was a firm believer in MDs when they came out and spent several hundred dollars on MD recorders/players and the discs themselves. I even had an MD player installed in my car.

    Even though nearly all of the music on my MDs was copied from my personal CDs, I found I couldn't upload the songs to a computer easily. Even though MD players have a USB port, you can't upload; the only way to transfer songs is to use an analog cable connected to the earphone jack. And you have to transfer in realtime. With more than 80 MDs, most using 2-4x compression, that was just a lot of sitting around.

    I even sent a letter to Sony's customer service complaining about that, and the fact that their proprietary software only worked with Windows, and requested that they release some changes to allow customers to better utilize MDs. They pretty much ignored my complaints/suggestions and told me it was a tech support issue. (A "review" of this issue can be found at GIDForums).

    That was the first big strike against Sony, for me. Then I heard about the limitations and DRM attached to BlueRay. Finally, the rootkit fiasco was the last straw and I swore I would never voluntarily buy another Sony product again. I've been keeping that boycott going for more than 6 years.

    I currently live in Japan and go out of my way to avoid Sony products. I don't care how great they may be; my money goes to their competitors, sometimes out of spite but often because the competitors are cheaper for the same items.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Techsupport, May 12th, 2009 @ 11:27pm

    Re

    the PS3 pricing and BluRay DRM that DECREASES the user experience, add the absolute idiocy of the rootkit fiasco and these completely PR-driven "we should have done better/we promise to do better" hollow, empty "admissions" that NO ONE BELIEVES and you have a recipe for complete disaster. Bye Sony, been nice knowing you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Tim, May 13th, 2009 @ 3:22am

    Having had some discussions with Sony Music people recently, there are certainly some that are trying to move forward with becoming more open within the company.

    They understand that interoperability issues create a bad public perception and opens the way for piracy. I'm not saying that this statement is going to prove a major step for Sony towards supporting more open standards, but there certainly is such a movement within the company, and I hope they are getting more of a say.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Techflaws.org, May 13th, 2009 @ 6:24am

    "SO NIE = like this? never!" as they say in Germany

    Plays with words aside, Sony think they know better but they don't!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Rick Sarvas, May 13th, 2009 @ 6:34am

    Re:

    On the topic of the Sony Reader - I actually spent an hour looking up the specs and looking at user reviews to MAKE SURE that it you could actually load HTML, RTF and TXT files on to it. That kind of feature seems like a no-brainer in any ebook device but because the Reader was a Sony product, my fist reaction at the time was that it couldn't possibly be true simple because it was a Sony device.

    How sad is that when you actually expect a product to be a DRM-laden mess just because it has a Sony name on it?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Shane, May 13th, 2009 @ 6:56am

    The PS3 is the most open game console this generation, the DRM is fine(I can download an unlimited number of copies to up to 5 systems with most games on PSN), but the DRM on their video store is way more restrictive.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Vastrightwing, May 13th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    Better than Sony

    TV: Sammy, LG, Sharp, JVC
    Audio: a variety of brands
    Cameras: Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Samsung
    Laptops: Toshiba, ASUS, Lenovo, Dell, etc.
    Game consoles: XBOX, Wii and others
    Media players: Philips & a bunch of others
    Speakers: a variety of brands

    Why I hate Sony: DRM, Root kits, Betamax, Memory stick, ATRAC, Mini-disc, BluRay, premium $ for name, etc. Basically Sony doesn't play nice and is not interoperable with anything else. Their licensing deals make sure their media can't be used for a variety of uses. I fail to understand how Sony can charge a premium still for stuff that just isn't as good as other alternatives.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    PC Support, Oct 2nd, 2011 @ 11:33pm

    Re: Re: Idiots

    Iím trying to figure out how to download the RSS feed from this site so I can listen to an audio version of it. Lance Laureys told me it was possible as he did it on his blog.
    Virus Support

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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