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Cybernaut

Make or break for Sony

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Sony is not doing so well these days. The well-publicized recall of millions of laptop batteries in recent months is just the tip of the iceberg that the Sony juggernaut has found itself on a collision course with in recent years.

It’s hard to say exactly where things went wrong for the Japanese electronics giant, but some experts think it might have something to do with the company focusing too much energy building robot dogs and not enough time designing affordable products that consumers actually want to buy.

Others credit the company’s obsession with security, and the fact that its products are not easily compatible with others.

Still others point to the way Sony itself functions, with different technology groups operating independently of one another to develop the next wondertoy, but with no central master plan to ensure everyone is working off the same page.

Some also point to the fact that Sony has all but ignored the software development aspect that goes along with the hardware they manufacture — the fact that Sony does not have an online gaming centre for the PS2 to rival the Xbox Live service offered by Microsoft is just one example.

Additionally, some believe Sony has been arrogant — so convinced of its own technological superiority that they were taken by surprise when other companies began to offer products that offered the same or better performance at a lower price.

And then there’s the public relations side of things. Just last year Sony BMG was forced to recall millions of CDs when it was discovered that they contained Digital Rights Management Software that snooped on purchasers’ computers and could have opened the doors to hackers. The software patch they issued to correct the problem apparently made the problem even worse.

Also in the last year Sony failed to reach a unified format agreement with other technology and entertainment industries over the next generation of high definition DVDs, essentially creating a Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD format war that rivals the Beta vs. VHS conflict of the 1980s. Sony backed Betamax in that fiasco, if you’re keeping score.

Sony invented portable music with the Walkman, but in the digital music race the Sony brand finds itself placed well behind Apple, Creative, Rio, SanDisk, Samsung, and others.

Whatever the reasons for Sony’s recent decline, the reality is that Sony stock is in the toilet, profits are down, and the pressure is building from all sides for the company to hit a homerun. The Playstation 3 is supposed to be that homerun, but it’s no sure thing.

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