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Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground

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old account Frank Eory
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re: Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground
old account Frank Eory   5/24/2012 10:02:27 PM
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I think I better not answer that other than to clarify that the projects I'm thinking of were IP developments that had longer time horizons and thus were not part of the closely-watched, regularly statused pipeline of new product development -- at least not at the time some manager tried to kill them. Later, after additional progress by engineers quietly working "in their spare time" to keep the IP warm and move it forward, and usually after the opposing manager had moved on, the IP development effort could be openly discussed again, officially resourced and included in a real product -- including some products that made real money.

old account Frank Eory
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re: Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground
old account Frank Eory   5/24/2012 10:36:23 PM
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Interesting. Bert used the phrase "life support" and I said "skunk works", but I think we mean pretty much the same thing -- keeping it going until you find the right champion to allow it to come out of hiding and back to the front burner. I wouldn't go as far as Bert and say clueless management. Intelligent people often disagree, and in the case of managers, that can mean different priorities in allocating limited resources (i.e., opportunity cost) and different assessments of risk vs. reward for a particular new product proposal. That doesn't mean one manager is a genius and the other is clueless -- just that they see things differently -- and unfortunately neither of them is clairvoyant. If we had clairvoyant managers who knew exactly the revenues, costs and schedules for one product vs. another, our jobs would be easy -- just build the product that will make the most money!

Bert22306
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re: Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground
Bert22306   5/24/2012 10:53:08 PM
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Point taken, Frank. My use of "cluelessness" was not meant to imply lack of intelligence. However, the system in question, like any other of the same ilk, cannot survive without a constant infusion of R&D. Hardly unusual, these days. The one manager assumed the company would milk the existing product for all it was worth, without investing R&D funds. Which would have meant a quick demise. Life support consisted of introducing new features "under the radar," on the cheap, until new management finally allowed more major upgrades. This system is alive and kicking to this day, multiple upgrades later. I think the missing piece in that manager's logic was to see what exactly differentiated this product, and how/why those features that differentiate it were going to continue to be in demand.

D-FlipFlop
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re: Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground
D-FlipFlop   5/25/2012 6:59:11 PM
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Just thought about something... Could you prepare, for us readers, a graphical ecosystem of Japan's electronics industry and point out who is doing well and who isn't? I know it would be a tall order, but it would be very educational and interesting. May be something of that sort already exists, but I am not aware of it at least.

Hasmon
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re: Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground
Hasmon   5/25/2012 8:00:41 PM
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The Ipad may have succeeded not because it was a better video player etc., but because a) the iPhone preceded it and it had a cornucopia of APPS available to run on it when it launched. The whole Appstore ecosystem changed everything. An ipad with just a video player, and a web browser, especially in the year 2000, was useless.

mcjw
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re: Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground
mcjw   5/26/2012 3:57:05 AM
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Kazuo Hirai is not reassuring as the new Sony president and CEO. After all it was Howard Stringer who pushed for open standards and gave us the SD/microSD card in Sony's cameras, camcorders, etc., but Hirai who put yet another proprietary memory card inside the PS Vita. Sony's new 1.6kg ultrabook is a poor attempt to protect the VAIO Z franchise, its excessive weight designed to match that of the VAIO S series with internal optical drive. Whereas Samsung and Apple would not hesitate to integrate the best possible technologies at their disposal to put out a class leading product, Sony and Nokia seems to have their hands tied to internal politics and general confusion as to what they should hold back. Looking at 3 (dubious) industry trends of glossy Gorilla glass displays, non-removable batteries, and non-expandable memory, you can see where each company stands: Samsung and Apple at the opposite poles, while Sony, Nokia, and others couldn't make up their minds where they want to be.

WW Thinker
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re: Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground
WW Thinker   5/26/2012 6:00:08 AM
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MCJW, you pointed out a good reason why Sony kept failing: proprietary this and that in products. However, in many ways, Apple is doing exactly the same but get away with success. Perfect example of Apple-proprietary is the connector which is used to charge the iPhone and iPod and iPad. I believe that Apple's success is attributed to two factors: 1) binding love of a sizable worshippers to SJ/Apple, 2) ability to offer reliable and solutions that are more "complete" than those of competition. Back in 2001, Sony's MP3 looks pretty from outside. But, owners of such device could only purchase Sony Columbia's music that are ATRAC-encrypted and came with Sony-proprietary software that could crash your Win95/98/2000/XP PC at the time! Thank you for pointing out what Hirai has done with the latest PS Vita. Based on this, he is not going to save Sony.

WW Thinker
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re: Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground
WW Thinker   5/26/2012 6:01:14 AM
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Sorry, a typo. I was meant to say "blinding love". Thanks.

Bert22306
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re: Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground
Bert22306   5/26/2012 8:56:52 AM
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I agree with most of what you wrote. The difference with Apple, IMO, is mostly that their toys support enough standards to continue to be useful even for operating outside the Apple walled garden. (Like, a real cell phone connection and real Internet over real WiFi. Not some closed off Sony-only garden.) Not to mention, we are discussing this when Apple's star is still shining bright. People have a way of assuming that today's status quo will remain the status quo. Like, remember how economics had changed forever, back in the 2003-2007 timeframe? We were being assureed of this. As to the faithful following, I have to disagree partially. Sony had just that same kind of blindly loyal follower, as do Toyota and Honda. As far as I'm concerned, ALL of this blind devotion is quite undeserved. I'm convinced it's just easier for many to put on blinders, believe some half-truths, and that absolves them of having to actually do some of their own investigating and thinking.

mcjw
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re: Failure to launch: Why Sony never got AirBoard off the ground
mcjw   5/26/2012 4:50:18 PM
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I had a sinister theory for success. The original PlayStation overtook Nintendo because it rode on a certain percentage of pirated CD-ROMs at the local store, at a time when Nintendo came out with the latest anti-piracy cartridges. Likewise, the iPod turned a blind eye on MP3 piracy, telling users "do not steal music" but _providing_ the simplest means to do it. It married the compact appeal of an MD Walkman and the "flexibility" of Rio or Creative's bulky HDD MP3 players. They both succeeded by destroying long-in-the-tooth business models. Game cartridges and removable media were the reason companies like Sony could market hundreds of models of meticulously crafted products like Walkmans and Handycams, and later it was the apps in App Stores that subsidizes Apple's original iPad. The Airboard failed because it had no obvious recurring revenue stream, but was designed like it did, priced like it didn't. As physical media evolved to a generic digital microSD card without "Metal" "High-Bias" and "Normal" distinctions of tape, content, apps, and "services" became the dominant business model. Sony has Columbia, but content, apps, and services favor no one in particular, as opposed to, say, BetaMax. So, you won't find a microSD card in iOS devices, and as long as people like thin, light, and magical, the battery will remain sealed (for a replicant-like 3 year lifespan). But more importantly, tech companies today are like the Panasonics, Aiwas, and JVCs of yore, getting their direction by the latest successful products and features Apple put out, as their predecessors followed Sony. All the while Samsung is bolstering their core components capacity, and Apple its manufacturing ability (exclusive arrangements with Foxconn). We gotta think of a better strategy against this than voting with our wallets!

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