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.

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Companies: sony

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Comments on “Sony Says It Should Have Been More Open… But It Said That In 2005 Too”

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RD says:


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.

Tim says:

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.

crystalattice (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Rick Sarvas (user link) says:

Re: 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?

anonymous coward says:

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.

Tim (profile) says:

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.

Vastrightwing (profile) says:

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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