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Walk away from the Sony

Want one of these? Resist the urge..
I think Sony has taken a significant business opportunity of becoming a big player in small e-devices and has managed to turn it into a disaster.

Let me explain. I used to be a regular buyer of Sony products. I've had a Walkman, TVs, a VCR (remember those), a laptop... but I would never buy one of Sony's small electronic devices post-Walkman because they made a fundamental error of judgement. They made it 'our way or not at all.'

I have never had a Sony video camera or digital camera. Why? Because they insist on using their own memory card format that's incompatible with everyone else's. And when you come to connect the device to your computer you can't just drag and drop files, you have to use their proprietary, slow and clunky PC software to communicate with the device. The same goes for their music players. Hopelessly  crippled by the truly awful associated software you are forced to use. And as for their ebook readers... you get the picture. (It's also true that Sony's seems the least supported ebook format in terms of new book releases these days.)

But am I not being hypocritical? Don't my iPhone and iPad also use proprietary and slow software on the computer? There's a big difference though. If yours is the dominant environment (as with iTunes) or if you have software that is built in with the operating system (like iTunes or Windows Media Player on Macs and PCs respectively) it's fine to expect us to use it. But when you are only an aspiring small fry it doesn't work to try to impose your 'standard'.

I think the trouble is that Sony were so used to being dominant with the Walkman that they assumed they were top dog in other parallel small electronics markets as well. At risk of mixing the animal metaphors, Sony was so used to being a big fish that it forgets that in this particular pond it is down with the minnows. And that has led to a fall.

If they haven't already, Sony should drop the proprietary formats, lose their awful software and get in with the masses before it's too late. We all know it makes sense.

But does Sony?


  1. iTunes is not built into my PC's operating system. It is the worst piece of software I have ever had the misfortune to use. I use it to upgrade iOS on my devices, and that's about it.

    If it were not for Dropbox, which allows me to transfer my own data between iOS device and PC without having to go near iTunes, I would ditch my iPhone and iPad.

    I refuse to buy music from Apple because the only lossless format it offers is its own proprietary one.

    I agree with you about Sony's insistence on using non-standard standards, though.

  2. As I said in the piece, iTunes and Windows Media Player are built in to OSX and Windows respectively. I did also comment that iTunes was slow (it is quicker on a Mac, but I understand that's no consolation) - but I can assure you it is wonderful compared with Sony's music handling software.

  3. It's not iTunes's slowness I object to (although it is undoubtedly slow); it's the absolutely dire user interface. I thought Apple were supposed to be brilliant at that sort of thing.

    I also object fundamentally to being required to use iTunes to transfer anything to/from my device. I should be able to drag and drop without firing up iTunes. But that will never happen, because Apple (et al.) are control freaks, and want me handcuffed to their content-selling store.

    Fortunately, I can at least now load podcasts onto my iPhone without having to run iTunes. I'm frankly amazed Apple allows apps developers to provide such useful, Apple-free functionality.

    I try to avoid Windows Media Player too.


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