Sony: Great Brand, Crappy Strategy

Two rather conflicting bits of news for Sony today. On one hand, a survey revealed that the Sony brand is stronger than Nintendo’s, and much stronger than Microsoft’s. (Forrester Research, which conducted the survey, went on to claim that “Microsoft faces big consumer defection risk.” Ouch.)

On the other hand, rumors abound that Walmart will quit the UMD business. Universal Studios has already ceased UMD production. Losing Walmart is a bit like having your legs chopped off. I wonder: if UMDs had cost half as much, would consumers have stuck with the format? The price always seemed excessive… to me at least.

It’s strange to witness such a mismatch between technical achievement, great branding, and questionable strategy. Why is Sony obsessed with expensive proprietary formats that almost inevitably generate apathy (if not resentment)? Why did it take the company so long to realize that, shocker of shockers, an online service would be important in next-gen consoles? Why is Sony letting the Nintendo Revolution run away with the physical gaming market, when the Eye Toy has been around for years? Where is Sony’s next-gen response?

I know, I know. It’s easy to criticize from the bleachers. They’ve got smart people who’ve managed to win two console wars in a row. And maybe these missteps don’t matter, since brand strength may preserve Sony’s dominance in the console market. Then again, I’m guessing that Nintendo had A+ brand strength with consumers once… before the GameCube?

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