31 March 2006

Another Sony Mistake

Lots of stories today about the apparent demise of Sony's UMD format.

I was always incredulous that such a unique and proprietary format could ever take off. The omens were not good following criticism of the PSP's video capabilities as I pointed out in this post back in October last year. The editorial in PSPWorld magazine I linked to in that article is worth re-reading as the author displays an excellent understanding of the PSP weaknesses (including use of UMD).

If Apple expected people to put a separate card in an iPod to play different bits of video, what would the world have thought? This is yet another example of muddied thinking through vertical integration that has gone too far. Sony can only ever retrieve it's Consumer Electronics crown if it accepts that creating and owning the content are not compatible with innovation in consumer gadgets. It must split the business as soon as it can. It should have been the portable music player leader, but ATRAC and other associated mistakes cost it dearly there. The Rootkit debacle was also a consequence of it's content ambitions, and now UMD. With Blu-ray it cannot afford to mess up, but I wouldn't bet against Sony turning out to be it's worst enemy on that too.

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