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How to Wreck Your Brand

April 7, 2007

I sold mine unopened. How a company could make so many blunders, I’ll never know.

It reminds me of how they blew the music player market too. They owned music. Literally. Discman was theirs. Walkman was theirs. They even owned one of the big music labels. Yet Apple is the one who now dominates the market.

It didn’t take a rocket scientist back then to see how Sony could have won, well before Apple even entered the market. How do I know? Because everyone was talking about it online. The recipe for success was on everyone’s lips, ready for the taking. Sony could have made the dominant music player but chose to ignore the customer.

History repeats itself with PS3.

I pray I never lose sight of what our customers want. Thank goodness our customers are very patient with us and keep reminding us of all of our flaws. I promise – we’re listening and working on them.

Categories: business, smugmug
  1. April 7, 2007 at 5:49 am

    I worked with them on the development of their http://musicstore.connect.com/ site that was their attempted ‘iTunes Store killer’ (just saying that makes me chuckle). Wow, what a mess. Talk about spaghetti code that had mushroomed into a giant ball of mud. It was *way* over budget and took much longer than anyone anticipated. And a year later, it still only supports Internet Explorer and Windows.

    My take on what went wrong in this instance: they did not manage complexity.
    They let it grow and grow and did not believe that ‘code debt’ was a reality. It soon took 10 times longer to make even the simplest changes because of the very poor state of the code.

    I have seen this happen at several companies and it’s usually the same story. There are B and C level coders that don’t understand the dangers or code complexity or code debt and thus create loads of both. The A level coders that do understand this try to explain the growing problem to management. The management doesn’t know any better, so they see code cleanup as a needless expense that will only slow down rolling out new features and so they side with the B and C level coders. Of course, the irony is that development will eventually crawl to a near halt because the code is undecipherable. Along the way the A level coders get so frustrated with the state of the code base that they leave the company for greener pastures. This is the critical turning point since the B and C level coders will only hire other B and C level coders – and the project will die a slow death as the cycle continues.

  2. April 7, 2007 at 8:02 am

    I think its easy to say you are listening to your customers because you are in a position to do something about it. You do not ship hardware that you have to commit to for years. The advantage of company built around a website is that you have full control over the end product at all times. But whos to say that some new technology won’t come in and make your website irrelevant? It seems impossible now, but i’m sure Sony thought the same thing about its Walkman (iPod) and PS2 (Wii).

    Sony has to anticipate the customer’s wants before they want it. Even though the PS2 still sells by the truckload, each generation of videogames is very different and a company can easily fall from the top in only a few years (see SEGA). I think PS3 will still do well, because the demand for HD gaming & movies will only increase, but it will be a luxury item for a long time. What they should have done is released a cheaper non-HD PS3, without BluRay much like Nintendo’s strategy. I think Nintendo knows that HD adoption is still about 4 years out, so they can release an inexpensive 480p console now, and worry about HD later.

  3. April 10, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    God I remember being in love with all the Sony gadgets, from their headphones to their Professional Walkman’s (there are some popular music albums that were recorded on a Sony Pro Walkman). There was nothing as sweet as Sony in the pre-computer days. I guess that dates me, sigh.

  1. April 8, 2007 at 3:56 pm
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