Sony vs. iPod

The whole company versus a product? Not really, yet almost. People fault Sony for its ATRAC (an encoding proprietary format) yet Apple's iPod is not any more open. People praise Apple for its cool factor. Gee, where have these people been when Sony introduced its several mini-disc players and recorders?

Then what is it that gives iPod, a 2001 product, so much of the market share? For one, it is the fact that consumers and Sony got equally tired--alas, the former of the latter. For another one, Sony's R&D seems so altered by the desiring management folks concerned with the 'cannibalization' of content... It's interesting, from the outside it is as if the model customer of the R&D were at odds with the model customer of the content folks: the former is this tech/gadgetry-loving avant-garde urban person willing to recognize financially a great product by paying extra for a Sony product, whereas the latter is the 'nothing can ever compete with "free" for my money.' Tough choice...

So, what is a challenger to do? Keep it simple, open for others to drive value to and from, and pay attention to performance. Simplicity, especially in the case of up and comers, ought to come at a price: don't be stingy guys and spend some $$ with folks at Idealab or similar places that employ good design-engineers! Nobody is asking for B&O yet in a world built from standard components you've got to differentiate your product! The openness in discussion is about standards and extensions. Balance right and generously--the generosity of openness can be sustained only by innovation, so there you have another cost. As far as performance is concerned, this thing you are building ought to stand on its own. Simplicity speaks to one's emotions, openness to one's social needs, and performance to one's brains!

To come back where I started, let's say that while Apple's iPod and Sony's minidisc achieve equally high marks on emotions and brain, Apple is the better of the two on openness. Moreover, when Apple introduced iPod in 2001, Sony's customers had already been waiting a revolutionary installment for about 10 years.

Now, that you've come so far, what am I really talking about? Is it music players, search engines, or simply great and long lasting brands? You be the judge!

1 comment:

fCh said...

From David Pogue's State of the Art in New York Times, 02/17/05, here's an excerpt on m:robe 500:

"Olympus seems to be the first company to get it through its head that the iPod owes a huge part of its success to its elegant, sleek looks."