image Gizmodo has kicked off a series of articles called “We Miss You, Sony” about how Sony, a company that used to be on top of the world thanks to the Walkman, the compact disc, and the Playstation, ended up a struggling also-ran.

The first piece in the series is called “How Sony Lost Its Way” and talks about Sony’s knack for making bad decisions. It puts this fall down to a combination of three factors: proprietary formats (such as the Mini-Disc or Memory Stick), unwillingness to commit (coming out with a multitude of mediocre products rather than picking one to focus on), and arrogance (believing its products sell on style when in fact historically the sold despite it).

The focus of the article is on audio players, storage formats, video game players, computers, and movie discs, but it also touches upon the Sony Reader e-book devices:

Sony released the first e-ink reader years before the Kindle—in Japan only. And it was nearly impossible to load your own content onto it. And it took years to get a solid online library and store together. According to estimates from Forrester Research, Sony had only sold about 50,000 of its Readers before Amazon entered the game with the Kindle. It took a competitor with a superior product to convince customers it was time to look at e-ink readers at all. And the non-strategic advantage of being the only reader sold in brick-and-mortar stores for Sony to get the #2 market share it had at last tally.

I found this piece to be interesting and insightful, as far as it goes. There is no mention of the infamous rootkit fiasco, but I expect that will come in a future entry.


  1. I used to look at Sony’s original Librie e-book reader in stores in Japan and think what a great product it would be if Sony hadn’t deliberately built so many limitations into it and their e-book store. Just a few weeks ago, I finally unsubscribed from Sony Style’s e-mail newsletter, because it’s always full of glossy pictures of underwhelming, overpriced products and “great deals” that are nowhere to be found.

  2. Years ago I would not buy any electronic equipment unless it was a Sony and I had a lot of stuff from 100 CD changers to each and every Mini-Disk players; televisions to laptops. Even had their early digital camera with the floppy disk.

    It is sad to see what has happened to them.

  3. When Sony came out with the Sony 500 I was real interested. I lived near Spokane, WA at the time and the closest Borders store where I could see and feel one was in Seattle. Borders did not seem very interested in selling them an Sony didn’t seem very interested either. The frosting on the cake was that the Mac was not supported. I hesitated for months to see if the local Borders would have one.

    Then the Kindle was introduced. 30 day return satisfaction prepaid return. Dictionary. Mac supported. Plays PRC files (I had quite a pile of those) so I ordered one. It was less than 2 days into my trial period when I decided it was good enough for me. I ended up buying the Kindle2 when it came out and still have both of them and my mate is happy to use the Kindle1. Sony’s downfall I fear is that it is out of touch with the users. It used to practice “Fair Trade” in California for example, until it was outlawed at which point I stopped boycotting their product and all others that were “Fair Trade” items. The only thing fair about those was it was fair to the sellers. I think Sony suffers from Mental Myopia.

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