Has Sony Finally Realized That Open Platforms Are Good?

from the for-real? dept

Sony is pretty famous for creating closed platform after closed platform locked down with incredibly damaging DRM. Back in 2005, there was a surprise statement from Sony's Ken Kutaragi, where he admitted that the company made a mistake in focusing on proprietary consumer electronics... but it seemed like no one was listening. The company kept on coming out with locked down, proprietary offerings. So, we were a bit skeptical a year ago when Sony CEO Howard Stringer once again claimed that Sony should have been more open. You can say it all you want, but if your solutions are still proprietary, it's pretty meaningless.

Could Sony finally be realizing that there really is a benefit to openness? Perhaps only after getting crushed in the market. But, people are noting that Sony's agreement to use Google's open GoogleTV platform is extremely un-Sony-like. Of course, it might just be a desperation ploy -- and too little, too late -- for a company that hasn't been considered a real leader in the space in many years.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2010 @ 4:02pm

    Sony has been crap for years. I cannot wait for them to die.

     

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    Donk240978, May 21st, 2010 @ 4:56pm

    Sony are idiots

    AC, I don't think Sony have been crap for years, only in the last 18 months where sales have flagged so much they are now forced to buy cheap shitty parts cos they can't afford good ones any more.

    Sony suck balls because there marketing department get paid big bucks to do F*#k all!

    I don't know about the rest of the world, but in Australia, the only promotion of the PS3 console is when you buy their latest Bravia TV you get a PS3 free (via redemption). Why the hell would I want to wait 6-8 weeks for Sony to ship me my Blu Ray player when I can buy one in the store now?!

    The only reason that console has tanked is because it is not promoted. I mean it's a home media centre straight out of the box, including Blu Ray with more power than the XBOX 360 and the Wii combined. More capacity. Free online portal.

    The problem with it now is there are almost no games for it because there is not enough of a fan base to justify porting or loyalty from developers.

    I know i am coming accross as a fanboy, and I really don't want to. I'm 32 and play my console once a fortnight.

    But I think my point remains valid.
    Sony suck balls because no one knows they are there any more, and they are charging too much for what they do sell.

    Compaq do the same laptops as the Vaio for a grand less.
    Samsung do better TVs for a grand less.
    And the iPod is cheaper and better than any MP3 player Sony have released.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Howard, May 21st, 2010 @ 5:33pm

    Ten years later

    Ten years ago, I heard someone say that Apple should give up trying to be the next Microsoft and instead try to be the next Sony. Well, ten years later, it's happened. Both Microsoft and Sony are being left behind, in a technological sense.

    Microsoft isn't really in the software business. They're in the Windows business, which means selling bundled copies of Windows to hardware OEMs and selling Office for Windows. This ignores consumers' needs, and thus results in a disastrous approach to marketing consumer electronics. They try to cram Windows into most of their products (even in name only e.g. "Windows Phone 7").

    Thus Microsoft is almost totally ineffective at selling consumer electronics and mobile computing products. The HP Tablet, exactly like all other Wintel tablets before it, was Windows in a netbook without a keyboard. Only this time it didn't have a stylus either. Obvious, inevitable total fail.

    Sony is the the business of trying to replicate past Sony glory. For decades, they were were the top consumer electronics company. They destroyed all the U.S.-based television companies. They invented the Walkman and paved the way for future iPod success. But in their long period of dominance they, like Microsoft, forgot how to innovate.

    Sony's big mistake, as the article mentions, was trying to leverage the Sony name to foist proprietary technology after proprietary DRM format after what all on the hapless consumer. They were hoping consumers would blindly buy Sony products "just because," and get locked into the Sony ecosystem with Memory Sticks and Mini Discs and ATRAC encoding.

    Didn't happen. Somewhere Sony just lost its coolness. Maybe the death of Aibo was the turning point. Maybe it was the death of Trinitron picture tubes. Who knows? Walkman could have been where iPod is now. But no. Apple is the new Sony now, in the sense of being the most influential and forward-looking consumer electronics company. Even Google is running scared.

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 6:42pm

    why I won't buy it.

    I would be afraid that after buying the TV that Sony would decide to "upgrade" the firmware and take away the best features of the TV. They have done that kind of thing before, and now I am scared of any Sony product that connects to the Internet.

     

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    bigpicture, May 21st, 2010 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Ten years later

    I don't think that Google is scared, Android OS smart phones just outsold the iPhone last quarter, and Android 2.2 will blow them away. If Apple keeps going down the closed and proprietary path that Sony did, they will end up where Sony is now. The market contest is between "open" (with third party ecosystems) and "closed" proprietary "mine all mine" models. If Apple had gone the "open" (sell the OS to anyone) path back in the day, they could have been where MS is today.

     

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  6.  
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    Jon B., May 21st, 2010 @ 7:34pm

    Since I bought a PS3 on the promise of Sony's openness only to see each incremental update take away bits and pieces of that 'openness', I'm going to go with 'No.'

    Then again, I do use my PS3's media player every freaking day, so maybe a Sony/Google TV would be a fun device. But don't count on 'openness'

     

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  7.  
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    Abno, May 21st, 2010 @ 11:50pm

    Re:

    Each update? The only update that has taken away 'openness' that I can think of is the whole Linux/"Other OS" option being taken away, which yeah, was definitely annoying.

    Some of the other updates have made it more open, like connecting to third party media servers over home networks and Divx certification.

    Then there's the standard HDD upgrades, usb and bluetooth device support, it's pretty damn open for a console, though there's still room for improvement.

    Plus with their ebook readers, Android phones and now the Google TV deal, they are heading in the right direction, albeit still a bit slowly, and still making some mistakes too in terms of 'openness' (Sony Music/Pictures), but their hardware is making progress.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2010 @ 3:19am

    Not So Open

    But, people are noting that Sony's agreement to use Google's open GoogleTV platform is extremely un-Sony-like.

    Open? Not so much. The shipping version is expected by many to be a restricted, DRM encumbered, Flash playing subscription box. So this isn't so much about Sony becoming more open as it is about Google becoming less so. Over all, not real good news.

     

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  9.  
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    Jerad Bitner, May 22nd, 2010 @ 7:24am

    Drupal

    They have also put a lot of money into the open source project Drupal (http://drupal.org) and actively use it for many of their artist websites for the last three years. Most recently http://www.christinaaguilera.com/ launched on Drupal.

     

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  10.  
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    Freedom, May 22nd, 2010 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Ten years later

    Ditto! :)

    Apple may be the new Sony and literally like Sony they are following in the same path.

    I often wonder why Apple/SJ doesn't do a platform approach instead. He is an extremely intelligent and a driven person where success is the key indicator. For someone like that, why would they not go after a model that offer multiple times of success over what Apple has done. Why not weave Apple DNA into everything - why not a platform for all?

    The only thing I can think of is that this type of success may not be possible - may violate the core DNA that allows Apple to innovate.

    Ironically for the same reason Steve Wozniac was driven out of Apple is the same reason the SJ/Apple will be driven out of the market by Google. They've done their job and someone else will take us to the next level.

    Freedom

     

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  11.  
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    Seth Hossaini, May 22nd, 2010 @ 9:35pm

    Re: Sony are idiots

    Dude, you are an idiot.

    You compare Compaq, Samsung, and ipod to Anything Sony??? You Dumb Shit. All three of those brands SUCK. All of them.

     

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  12.  
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    Dan (profile), May 23rd, 2010 @ 7:42am

    Sony Entertainment is the problem

    Sony Electronics was the king of the hill with the Walkman and related products, then Sony Entertainment got in the way with IP issues and locked everything down. Proprietary formats is just DRM concealed.

    Sony should split those two companies apart from each other. Of course, if Sony Electronics did what it did best, Sony Entertainment would then sue their innovation into non-existence.

     

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  13.  
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    zeiche (profile), May 23rd, 2010 @ 4:31pm

    Sony open? Hahahahahaha!!!

    Sony has announced this epiphany several times in the past and little has come of it. I recall them calling for openness shortly before the root kit fiasco, so if that is what they mean to be open, I prefer their closed platforms, thank you.

    This looks like a desperate move to stay relevant since they no longer make products that excite consumers. And badging a product as "open" means little if nobody cares. Sony's answer is easy to identify but very difficult to implement. They need to make the best widget ever. What widget? It doesn't matter. It just needs to blow all of the other widgets out of the water. Their new vision of television doesn't seem to fit the bill since history has shown bolting features onto a consumer device generally does not create a hit product. The only way they can pull this one off is to provide an intuitive user interface that has never been seen before. The show is over if they release the product with a standard remote control since the "arrows + select" interface is a clunky dead-end. Even Apple's stab at it sort of sucks. It would be easier for Sony to cleverly apply Android technology to a device that has not already been targeted by Apple.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2010 @ 6:50pm

    Re: Re: Sony are idiots

    You compare Compaq, Samsung, and ipod to Anything Sony??? You Dumb Shit. All three of those brands SUCK. All of them.

    Yeah, just like Sony. You dumb shit.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2010 @ 3:36am

    Sony has cancer, their death is imminent!

     

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  16.  
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    turnedpast10, Jul 16th, 2010 @ 9:55pm

    I don't understand why anyone would want to buy a Sony MP3 player these days. I actually tried very hard to find one I liked recently but failed to actually do so. Sure they have great sound but that's where it ends I'm afraid. Trying to stay below a $125 price point and I couldn't find a single one that could produce a playlist via the device itself?!?!? You have to be kidding me! How could this have been overlooked?!? Overpriced garbage for this reason alone! It's like marketing a hot rod automobile without a steering wheel installed...

     

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