I'll second this, and I'm not exactly a "young people". When a Sony utility driver dragged my Windows PC to a crawl by connecting to Sony every five seconds or so, whether the associated device was attached or not, I finally gave up on new Sony devices. I won't even buy Sony blank media. And that's while I *still* watch my WEGA TV in the living room.
People ask, Why brand loyalty? For years one could count on a Sony product being top-tier in its category. By the time Consumer Reports or other mass-media reviews came out, the market was on to the next model. The faster information flows, the less one needs to rely on such pre-judgments (didn't want to use "prejudices" because I don't mean it in a pejorative way).
I'll bet everyone who asks "why brand loyalty" has *negative* loyalties that *never* change - one bad experience and they'll never buy from a company again.
I too agree that brand loyalty is probably going less and less. With online reviews at Amazon and instant price/feature comparison, users now have more tools at their hands to compare brands and choose carefully. No loyalty or word of mouth from trusted friends is needed.
It's not like engineering where the learning curve or time to market can hinder you from venturing into new technologies. Its by definition a consumer market. You buy it to use it.
I lost confidence in Sony as a result of buying my first DVD player from them. I eventually found that it would not play any CD or DVD that wasn't mastered. I'm sure that was the desire of the the content folks at Sony, there surely was no technical reason for the limitation. So not only could a not play content that I made myself, I also could not play other low-volume (non-mastered) content like my daughter's high school orchestra. That was the end of the line for Sony products in my house.
If Sony can improve the user experience, they might win me back, but I think that it is unlikely unless they separate themselves from the content folks. There is a lot of room to make the consumer electronics experience a lot better, but an agenda of anything other than pleasing the customer will prevent it from happening.
I agree to a degree, but I'm not too fond of Apples DRM position. That hasn't hindered their success. But then again, I don't own an Apple product. But the main reason I use a $30 MP3 player as there will be less swearing if I loose it.
It seems to me that companies often lose sight of their customers. They have 1) stockholders 2) boards of directors 3)media (in this case electronic and computer magazine writers, reviewers, etc...
I often think that CES (which has consumer(s) in the name, but not actually attending the show as the attendees are all pundits.
When was the last time a big company actually got a few engineers together and went out and ask some consumers/customers "how do you like this ?"
Not just in the pro-AV world. Sony has had a history of trying to lock their customers into proprietary products which cost more than and are no better performing than their generic competition.
The Memory Stick is a perfect example of this. Why on earth would anybody with a brain purchase a personal electronic device that doesn't support a standard SD/MMC flash card? The only product I have ever purchased with a Memory Stick was a PSP and that was a gift for my son. I avoid Sony cameras and MP3 players like the plague because of that stupid Memory Stick.
I would not bet against Sony, just yet. The loyalty of Japanese customers is a positive thing in my opinion as it gives them a breather for when things go wrong (something other companies in other countries do not have, which means they have very little breathing space). I also admire the manufacturing culture in Japan, for when manufacturing skills are lost, it is very hard if not impossible to recover. I agree that Sony have been slow in bringing new innovative products to the market in the last decade or so but I reckon they will bounce back soon.
In the pro- and semi-pro audio-video business, Sony always operated heavy-handed restrictive business practices, made possible by the long queue of dealers wanting to get SONY on board. SONY's control of selling prices made sure everyone got a good margin, so dealers all had a slush-fund with which to buy business from corporate and educational bulk buyers with backhanders like loans, holidays, exotic entertainment(!), sweeteners of all kinds.
It wasn't the technical specs that won the day (although SONY gear was adequate, it wasn't often cutting edge), it was the under-the-table dealing that secured SONY's market position.
Competitors had to match the backhanders and sweeteners or go empty handed, and many refused to go that low, preferring a straight fight on technical performance alone. This was a different world to the consumer market, where there are too many to bribe but if you can control fashion you can get a huge advantage.
Certainly SONY were not alone in these practices but to see them at the top, made the contrast with the reality of their inside operations all the more glaring and hypocritical.
I wondered if SONY decided to adopt these strong-arm tactics after themselves losing the BetaMax straight fight with a better product. They certainly won with BetaCam after that!