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.