Sony Recognizes That Openness Is A Competitive Advantage

from the finally dept

It may have taken the (very) long way to get there, but it looks like at least some folks over at Sony have figured out that openness can be a competitive advantage, and have decided to support the open ePub ebook format for its ebook reader. Now, there are lots of caveats here. Amazon has effectively been able to capture the leadership position in this market, while Sony has languished, so partly this is a hail mary pass -- which we've seen happen elsewhere as well. And, of course, despite it being an open format and the fact that Sony is ditching its own DRM, the new format will still have Adobe DRM -- so this isn't a truly opened up solution, but it is a step. It may be difficult for Sony to recapture the lead in this market by this point, but it seems like that the open ebook platforms will only gain steam (and eventually Amazon will end up supporting it as well). It's the natural progression that we see over and over again: a closed platform may help define the market, and then weaker competitors often circle around an open platform, realizing it's their only chance to fight back against the lock-in of the market leader. While it often takes some time, the open platforms do tend to get better and better, even to the point that the original leader is eventually forced to adopt it as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    Grant Woodward, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 6:21am

    I will say that I think the Kindle took a big hit from Amazon's 'Orwellian' error - I know it kept me from buying one. While I'm not entirely certain I'd use Sony's product either (just because I'm not entirely sold on the ebook reader as a standalone, specialized device compared to a netbook) I'll at least give it a look-see. Not so for the Kindle at this point.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Addison, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 6:33am

    Mike Masnick Makes A Fool Of Himself

    "It may have taken the (very) long way to get there"

    What an idiot.

    Let's see...

    For almost three years now everyone who is lucky enough to own a Sony PS3:

    * Let's you easily install any off the shelf laptop drive - no over priced proprietary harddrives like some other company forces you to

    * Let's you easily install a completely open source OS on your PS3 and run any Linux/open source software on the system

    * Has the gold standard for console online systems that is similar to the open and developer friendly PC gaming online world

    But hey! Some random fanboy is running his mouth off and making himself look like a fool.

    Way to Mikey!

     

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    •  
      identicon
      some old guy, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 6:55am

      Re: Mike Masnick Makes A Fool Of Himself

      ITT: Sony Fanboy going apeshit incoherent due to someone saying something bad (actually good, but not good enough for the sony fanboy).

      Console fanboys are a scary bunch. They are so incredibly deluded because they have to be in order to justify the absurd overpricing of the entire video game market.

      The funniest thing about console fanboys? They think exclusivity deals are pro-consumer. What a bunch of flaming morons.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Addison, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:27am

        Re: Re: Mike Masnick Makes A Fool Of Himself

        Wow, even with a couple dimwitted losers dumb enough to buy the worst console ever created, the Xbox 360, you still managed to not only being the dumbest person posting on this story, you also sound like a complete nutcase.

         

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          identicon
          MCS, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Addison Makes A Fool Of Himself

          Stop hijacking the topic you stupid troll.

          This article is not debating video game consoles...idiot. None of the points you make have anything to do with DIGITAL rights management. Get your head out of your ass or go away.

           

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    •  
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      Steven (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:10am

      Re: Mike Masnick Makes A Fool Of Himself

      Just on one point. 'Let's you easily install a completely open source OS on your PS3 and run any Linux/open source software on the system'

      Sony doesn't 'let you', they didn't make it 'easily' installable, and in fact they didn't help the effort at all. The ability to run Linux on the PS3 is purely due to some very skilled Linux hackers that took the time and effort to reverse engineer a way to install other software on the PS3. Sony gets NO credit for that.

      Although even after all that effort it's not incredibly useful, the performance is pretty bad.

      The rest of course is all questionable fanboi crap.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:16am

      Re: Mike Masnick Makes A Fool Of Himself

      I'm sure you are happy with your ps3 and all 2 games.

       

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        Addison, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re: Mike Masnick Makes A Fool Of Himself

        Awww! Poor liddle Xbot!

        Let's see loser:

        Sony: 20 first party development studios cranking out PS3 games

        Nintendo: 10 first party dev studios

        Microsoft: 3 first party dev studios - LOL!

        Poor baby! Over 5 times as many developers putting out exclusives for the PS3 this. But, hey!, the RRoDbox does have a whole bunch of crappy downgraded PC ports to fill out the joke games lineup!

         

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      minijedimaster (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:27am

      Re: Mike Masnick Makes A Fool Of Himself

      Has the gold standard for console online systems that is similar to the open and developer friendly PC gaming online world

      LMAO! Yea that's why the PS3 is in LAST place by far for console sales. Moron. Plus, everything ^he^ said... +1

       

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        Addison, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:34am

        Re: Re: Mike Masnick Makes A Fool Of Himself

        Awww! Another liddle Xbot!

        I bet you just love your fake vgcharz sales numbers!

        The PS3 is the third fastest selling console in history.

        Does that make you cry? Poor baby!

        Fastest selling consoles in history:

        1. PS2
        2. Wii
        3. PS3

        So much for 'captializing on the one year 'head start'' for Microsoft and its POS RRoDbox...

        Sony already kicked the 360 into last place in both Japan and Europe. Only one more region to go...

        No wonder Microsoft has thrown in the towel and is giving up trying to compete with Sony and has been closing down their first party console studios and aren't giving up on trying create new Xbox hardware.

        But hey! Slapping a ripoff of Sony's EyeToy style motion controls on old Xbox 360 hardware is gonna be a HUGE HIT!

        LOL!

         

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        Lacuna, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 11:42am

        Re: Re: Mike Masnick Makes A Fool Of Himself

        It is both sad and funny that there are still kids who are that delusional.

        The PS3 is outpacing the 360 by some 4 or 5 million units worldwide at similar point of time on the market. Even worse for Microsoft is that includes the many millions of replacement 360s people have bought and continue to buy for the RRoD hardware failure fiasco.

        Not really hard to imagine how huge the sales gap will be for Sony over Microsoft when the price drops to 300 dollars soon for the PS3 and then down to 200 dollars.

        Twice as expensive and outselling the 360 shows that the massive graphics superiority the PS3 is showing over the 360, gigantic first party exclusive developer advantage, and rock solid reliability and engineering is the winning strategy and is why Sony is defeating Microsoft once again so easily in the console market.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    dataGuy, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 6:51am

    It's still Sony to me

    I have not forgotten their rootkit and I have no intention of cutting Sony ANY slack.

     

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      diabolic (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:15am

      Re: It's still Sony to me

      Totally agree here. Sony makes bad decisions and poor quality products that they do not stand behind. Sony is a brand I do not even consider.

       

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    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 6:59am

    The day there is a fully-open, DRM-free eBook reader that supports a variety of formats (including autoformatting for text files), along with a built-in Gutenberg search, will be the day I finally buy an eBook reader.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Addison, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:19am

    Little Stevie

    Steven,

    LOL! Congrats dimwit, you just make yourself look a total idiot.

    "Boot Other OS" is right there is the damn PS3 XMB System Menu you pathetic little fanboy! Yellow Dog Linux was the distro Sony worked with and since then many other distros are now supported.

    What a loser!

    Little Stevie, time for you to shut up.

     

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    •  
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      minijedimaster (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:31am

      Re: Little Stevie

      Time to stop feeding the troll.

       

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        identicon
        Addison, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 8:08am

        Re: Re: Little Stevie

        Poor liddle Xbots...

        Let's just do a little 'openness' comparison:

        Sony:

        > Any off the cheap shelf laptop harddrive can be used to upgrade the PS3

        > Free online networking with lagfree dedicated servers just like the open PC gaming

        > Standard webbrowser included with every PS3

        > Any OS can be easily installed and run on the PS3. Full support for it is right in the PS3 formatting tools and system menu

        > Graphics - developers can use the industry standard OpenGL to access the PS3 graphics hardware that runs on every platform on the market Windows,Linux,Mac,iPhones,Android,etc.

        > Any off the shelf keyboard and mouse can be used with the system

        Microsoft:

        > Only proprietary and overpriced Microsoft drives can be used.

        > 50 dollar a year laggy P2P gaming that is locked down by Microsoft and hostile to developers who want to provide free content and mods like they are able to easily do with the PC and PS3

        > No webbrowser - all network access is only through Microsoft proprietary communication

        > Locked down hardware that is only runs the proprietary Microsoft Xbox OS

        > Developers are only able to use Microsoft's proprietary directx APIs that no one but they use

        > Keyboard and mouse support is locked out by Microsoft

        So, not only is Microsoft getting utterly humiliated graphically by Sony's PS3 this gen, it is being done so by the most open console ever created.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 7:50am

    less we forget SECUROM,

    FAWK SONY!

     

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    sehlat (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 8:29am

    "Open" DRM, too!

    A Fair Use(tm) quotation from the New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/13/technology/internet/13reader.html?_r=1)

    Sony will also scrap its proprietary anticopying software in favor of technology from the software maker Adobe that restricts how often e-books can be shared or copied.


    It's still the same old Sony. "We own your stuff, not the other way around."

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 8:52am

    A real comment that's actually on point..

    Did Sony learn nothing from the Betamax debacle? Betamax was a superior technology to VHS, but since only Sony was making Betamax and EVERYONE ELSE was making VHS, competition drove the price of VHS so low that NO ONE bought Betamax and now it's an obscure memory very few of us have of days gone by.

    Apparently they learned nothing from Apple/Mac, either. In the early days of PC's, Macintosh was a much better computer than IBM's: Macs had a GUI on a full color screen, it had GUI's partner the mouse, and also music. The PC had NONE of those things. But, then IBM (basically scrapping their patents, but saving their business) said, "If you want to make a PC like ours, here's EXACTLY how you do it." Then, like with Betamax and VHS, competition drove down the price of an "IBM clone" and now there are FAR more IBM clones than there are Macs on the market today and at a much lower price.
    I guess those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it!

     

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      icon
      diabolic (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 12:43pm

      Re: A real comment that's actually on point..

      Also, IBM Clone hardware development outpaced the proprietary Mac hardware. Now MacOS runs on IBM Clone hardware - all the new Mac hardware is IBM Clone hardware under the covers.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Abno, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    PS3

    PS3 is a good example of Sony being more open, and a lot of that came from Ken Kutaragi who pushed for PS3 to use as many open standards as possible.

    With their gaming and electronics becoming more open, hopefully the Sony Music and Sony Pictures divisions will start to modernize their business models a little more too.

    But seriously, this doesn't need to turn into a PS3 vs 360 debate, they're both good consoles with a lot to offer.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      MCS, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 9:05am

      Re: PS3

      How open is PS3 in regards to DRM?

      I have seen all the listed open HARDWARE examples, but that really never has been an issue debated (at least not on techdirt).

      Ever try to back up your PS3 games? I haven't, but I am curious as to what DRM may prevent this.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Abno, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 9:31am

        Re: Re: PS3

        It depends, the movies in their video store (which I can't even access since I'm Canadian) seem to be pretty locked down with DRM still, but that seems to be the choice of the movies studios.

        The games seem pretty open with their DRM though. You can download them on up to 5 machines through your psn account(with the exception of a couple games like Warhawk and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue). I've never tried to back them up, but I think you can download them an unlimited amount of times since it's connected to your psn account.

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Lacuna, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 11:36am

        Re: Re: PS3

        "Ever try to back up your PS3 games?"

        Yes, along with millions of other PS3 owners.

        Backing up your saves is built right into the PS3 system software. Just hook up any USB drive to your PS3 and it is trivial to back and restore your game saves.

        Please stop spreading lies.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Xanthir, FCD, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 11:56am

          Re: Re: Re: PS3

          Jeez, I hate to feed this off-topic stuff, but:

          "Ever try to back up your PS3 games?"

          Yes, along with millions of other PS3 owners.

          Backing up your saves is built right into the PS3 system software. Just hook up any USB drive to your PS3 and it is trivial to back and restore your game saves.

          Reading comprehension, dude. The question was about backing up the *games*, as in the actual disks. Not save files.

           

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          •  
            identicon
            Remo, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 12:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: PS3

            Game saves
            PSN games
            Movies
            Music/audio

            All are easily backed up with a single command on the PS3.

            PS3 game discs are of course not legally able to be copied - just like every other form of disc based media.

             

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  •  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 9:04am

    Attention console war participants

    Real men/women game on their PCs.

    That is all.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      some old guy, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 10:13am

      Re: Attention console war participants

      No platform is deserving of fanboyism. Each platform strives for exclusivity, which rapes the consumers.

      No consumer should accept that. Fanboys beg for it tho.

      /boggle

       

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      •  
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        Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 10:44am

        Re: Re: Attention console war participants

        Agreed. The idea that I had to buy both a PS2 in order to play FFX AND an Xbox to play Deus Ex: Invisible War was just plain stupid, and I will not be doing anything so foolish again.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 10:21am

    While Addison's hostile demeanor quickly throws off the credibility of his statements he does make a few factual points. The PS3 was designed to allow the user to run Linux from very early in it's development cycle. I would argue that the free game development SDK on the Xbox 360 does seem to be more open and indie developer friendly then the offerings of the Wii (my personal favorite console) and the PS3.

    This isn't taking into account that I'm a very amateur XBLA game developer of course. ;)

    Sony's attempt to adopt an open standard does seem to be a bit of a "hail mary" play with the inclusion of a DRM system and not a broader move to open standards in general. Ironically if you search for "Sony Open Standards" in google will bring up Many results about this their ebook reader... but not much else.

     

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    HolaJohnny (profile), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 3:17pm

    Addison

    As a fan boy/douche bag/troll why do we care? Lets all save ourselves some time and put him into the asshat category. Do everyone a favor and dry hump your PS3 controller and shut up.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    CrushU, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 5:21pm

    Not to feed the troll, but...

    PS3 is the best thing Sony has done in a long time.

    This is a fact, take it as you will.

    Beyond that and actually On Topic, Sony is a weird company. Their games divisions isn't bad. (As long as you stay away from the Sony Online part) Sony Music and Sony Pictures can die in a fire. Bought a music CD and that was how I learned about DRM, because it wouldn't play in my car, and I couldn't copy the tracks to my computer or any player so I could listen to them elsewhere.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Him ThatIs, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 5:27pm

    My 2 cents (on sale now!)

    Does anyone use an easy to cut and paste format on their ebook? I doubt it. However, Sony using a cross-platform(abobe) format not of their making is quite a step in the right direction. Sony does deserve praise for this. Is it a strategy for sales? duh. Anyone here hate to make money? Has Sony made bad decisions in the past? Who hasn't? Have you?

    Sony appears to be seeing the potential and is stepping lightly, not plunging like a blind idiot, into a place we'd all like to see them AND THEIR COMPETITORS go. This is encouraging, what with the PS3, their ebook and whatever may come next. Let's encourage THEM and give them thought-out ideas and critique.

    Let us not be hateboys because of the past, but merely cautious. Thank you.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Fakey, Aug 14th, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    Sony Reader Owner

    I love my Reader, but I am _so_ glad Sony is giving up its PoS proprietary eBookstore DRM software. It's slow and buggy and it crashes at least once every time I try to use it. The only nice thing about it is it lets you license up to 6 devices on which to read your books.

    Adobe's Digital Editions software is way easier to work with, though right now the Reader doesn't do a very good job of re-sizing or re-flowing text from those PDF files (or ePub files, for that matter). I'm hoping Sony will provide a firmware update to fix this once they go ePub.

    Neither option is DRM free, but the move to ePub is a step in the right direction. Truly, the best software for the Sony Reader is the free open source program, Calibre, by programmer Kovid Goyal.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    alternatives(), Aug 14th, 2009 @ 11:30pm

    Sony? Open? Bahahaha

    Sony's past crimes:

    Support for DMCA via campaign contributions/lobbying cash
    The Root kit installs from the music CDs
    Ever try to get hardware specs for sony hardware so you can support it with open source - they have a history of not even bothering to try to help.

    And so now, they are magically "open" - Pull the other one, it recites War and Peace.

    I'll wait for the ruckus when they pull the support in a software update in the future.

    When a vendor comes out with a really OPEN ebook, then I'll care about the platform.

     

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    Ronald J Riley (profile), Aug 15th, 2009 @ 5:56am

    Sony-Poor Quality and Service

    This is just a marketing gimmick on Sony's part and worthless in light of poor engineering, unreliable products, and atrocious service.

    Sony built a great reputation over decades and has squandered it in a few years. Apple and Google, both members of the Piracy Coalition are doing the same today.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 - (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Aug 15th, 2009 @ 6:01am

    Sony-Poor Quality and Service

    This is just a marketing gimmick on Sony's part and worthless in light of poor engineering, unreliable products, and atrocious service.

    Sony built a great reputation over decades and has squandered it in a few years. Apple and Google, both members of the Piracy Coalition are doing the same today.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 - (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 5:21am

    xbox is wank

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 5:22am

    xbox is wank

     

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


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