Op-Ed

Op-Ed
Sony's Phil Harrison Shreds A Picture of The Pope

Russ Pitts | 1 Jun 2006 14:55
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I'm seriously trying to avoid building a career based on discussing the ridiculousness of Sony's business philosophy and the outrageousness of its bannermen, but COME ON, PEOPLE! I mean ... COME ON!

Sony's Phil Harrison recently sat down for an interview with Der Spiegel Online. He had a lot to say, but little of it made sense unless you're from outer space. Or perhaps German.

"We don't need the PC."

For example, is pretty strong language. I don't know what Sony pays these guys, but some of it has to be in crack. This from a company that makes PCs.

Ah ... but that's it, then isn't it? We're talking about the Holy Grail of home entertainment: an all-in-one device, attached to a large display in the living room. A content-delivery vehicle feeding all of your entertainment needs, in other words.

Microsoft has been pursuing this dream since there was a Microsoft. "A computer on every desk, in every home ..." all running Windows. The dream has expanded of course, as the company realized that there was plenty of room to market a Microsoft device to people who didn't use a PC ...

Sony is doing the same, but from the opposite direction. Chances are that most people own or have owned a Sony product at one time or another. From Discmans to DVD players to Playstations, the brand is as ubiquitous as technology can get. And who among the Sony device owners hasn't used their Sony device to view Sony-produced content? Sony wants to own your free time, and they've got a pretty good head-start. Whatever the shape, specs or price of the upcoming PS3 may be you can guarantee that it will be designed, first and foremost, as a content-delivery system.

Harrison goes on, in the interview, to express his interest in digital networking (like Myspace and Second Life) and states pretty definitively that PS3 users will be able to do things such as browse the internet (and sign on to Mypace). Setting aside for a moment the fact that Microsoft has already tried this strategy with the WebTV device, one has to wonder if Sony will finally succeed in creating the Holy Grail with the PS3.

I think I'll need to see it in action before laying my bets, but here's something to consider: The problem with most all-in-one devices is twofold, one feeding the other. 1) They're too expensive because they do everything. 2) Most people already own one or more of the devices which the all-in-one is designed to replace.

So who in their right mind would spend ... say ... $600 on a device which shows movies, browses the internet and plays games when they already have at least one device capable of doing one, two or all three of those things? Why, gamers of course.

Which is why I think if anyone has a chance of pulling a hat trick in this generation, it's Sony. Because for better or worse, with their PS1 and PS2 market share - and commitment to backwards compatibility - Sony owns more gamers than anyone else. Regardless of how expensive their new device may be at launch (and there's still a very strong possibility that it will launch at a lower-than-$600 price point) over 100 million users will not be swayed so easily.

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