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Sony's War On Makers, Hackers, and Innovators 317

Posted by timothy
from the can-we-play-it-in-the-form-of-a-video-game? dept.
ptorrone writes "MAKE Magazine takes a look at Sony's history of suing makers, hackers and innovators. Over the last decade Sony has been targeting legitimate innovation, hobbyists, and competition. From picking on people who want to program their robot dogs to dance to suing people who want to run their own software on something they bought. Sony has made so many mistakes with technology choices (Memory Stick, Magic Gate, UMD!), perhaps they'll end themselves soon enough, but until then MAKE is keeping score for Sony's all-out war on tinkerers."
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Sony's War On Makers, Hackers, and Innovators

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  • Tinkerers tend to, well, tinker with their parts.
  • by kmdrtako (1971832) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:17AM (#35311164)

    Considering their (high end) TVs and cameras, and I'd hazard a guess that their Blu-Ray players as well, all run Linux you'd think they'd be FOSS friendly, wouldn't you?

    Maybe someone just needs to explain things to them.

    I sure hope there's no Linux code in anywhere in the PS3 code base.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867)

      Using FOSS doesn't necessarily mean you're FOSS-friendly. It means you're technically adept (because FOSS software usually tends to be better than proprietary) and/or a cheap bastard.

      Contributing to FOSS, whether in terms of user support, code contributions, monetary donations, means you're FOSS-friendly. Sony has done none of those things. Sony is no more FOSS-friendly than a black hat who happens to use Linux (actually that's unfair, black hats probably help out noobs in the forums).

      • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:52AM (#35311384)

        Be fair. This should read:

        "Some FOSS, worked on by a competent team, revised often with care towards the experience of users other than the authors and attention to the forward pace of current technology, can equal or better proprietary software".

        You and I (and everybody else) have used some pretty godawful pieces of FOSS on pretty much any given OS, as well as the gems. There's nothing about FOSS that inherently makes it better.

      • by commodore6502 (1981532) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:54AM (#35311386)

        >>>FOSS software usually tends to be better than proprietary

        I probably shouldn't question this.
        I probably should just walk-away and protect my karma.
        Nah.
        Please show me FOSS software that's better than ModelSim, Mentor's Schematic Capture/layout, or even something basic like - Microsoft Word or Outlook. I don't buy the argument that FOSS is usually better.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by jedidiah (1196)

          Neither msword nor outlook are anything to write home about or hold up as examples.

          • Agreed.

            But there's also nothing better than MS Word (LibreOffice can't handle complex docs) or MS Outlook, especially for a demanding corporate environment.

            • by Gordonjcp (186804)

              "Better" in what way? MS Notepad is better than MS Word. It doesn't have all this messy font crap, and autoformatting that screws up dates. It doesn't annoy you by trying to pretend you've mis-spelled words. It doesn't require a fast processor, several gigabytes of hard disk space and at least a gigabyte of memory, to *not quite* manage to do what WordStar did on a Z80 with 64k of RAM and a 5.25" floppy.

        • Not all FOSS is better than all proprietary, but in generally it usually is.

          Evolution is better than Outlook. I'd even say Thunderbird is better than Outlook. Outlook is a buggy, slow POS.

          • by i.r.id10t (595143)

            Hell the magic 8 ball knew that years before outlook even existed... almost like a prophecy..

            "Outlook not so good"

        • by gpuk (712102) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:28AM (#35311716) Homepage

          Show me the commercial equivalents that beat: apache, postgresql (for db tasks other than mega-enterprise grade), bind, svn, git, firefox/chrome, postfix (for non-groupware mail servers), ssh, vsftpd, squid...

          Those are just off the top of my head

          • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday February 25, 2011 @01:24PM (#35313632) Homepage

            Show me the FOSS attempts that beat -- or even match -- Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premier, Adobe Flash Pro (not the client), Sony Vegas, MS Visual Studio, MS Excel, MS Project, WinRAR, QuickBooks, TurboTax, Google Search, GMail, Picasa, Facebook, etc. And let's not get started on entire categories where FOSS efforts are minimal or entirely absent: games, navigation, business software (point-of-sale, processing, inventory management, banking, medical, legal, industrial), and let's throw in AI software like Watson while we're at it, if only because it comes from IBM, one of the biggest commercial OSS advocates ever.

            Those are just off the top of my head.

            Now granted, the technologies behind some of those products may be FOSS, but that's not really the point. I'm pretty sure there are plenty of drivers compiled with gcc, but that doesn't inherently make them any more useful, or any higher quality. Also, Chrome itself is not open source.

        • Man, You like to throw gasoline on fire :)
          (And i agree. Is stupid to say that one software is "better" only because is FOSS.)
      • You can't expect people to follow unwritten "rules" - though feel free to drop the hammer on them if they are indeed not playing by the written rules.

    • by DrXym (126579)

      Considering their (high end) TVs and cameras, and I'd hazard a guess that their Blu-Ray players as well, all run Linux you'd think they'd be FOSS friendly, wouldn't you?

      They use free software and they fulfill their obligations. I'm sure you could also find projects where they've made substantial contributions too.

      None of which means squat for the current situation. They're going after people modding their closed source firmware with the ultimate goal of facilitating piracy and other unauthorised mods. I doubt they would give a rat's ass if someone produced a 1-way firmware update that turned a PS3 into a dedicated Linux box running XBMC.

    • It's all well if they ARE using Linux code. BUT if they are in violation of the GPL, THEY need to be sued themselves and the products pulled from the market until the issue is resolved.

      • Sony violated copyright law by distributing a copyrighted work without a license.

        The distinction is important and we should always describe this type of action as violating copyright.

        Make sure people know that are Sony the pirates!
    • by Nikker (749551)
      We should probably hand that question off to Darl.
    • by JustNiz (692889)

      I would be most surprised if there actually wasn't any open source in there somewhere. Of course, how you find and prove it is a non-trivial issue.

  • It's simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:19AM (#35311176) Journal

    It's simple. Vote with your wallet and don't buy Sony. Even if they make something which looks nice, DON'T BUY IT. Basically, they hate their customers and unless you stop buying from them, they will never stop abusing their customers.

    As an added bonus, if you don't buy from them, they can't abuse you.

    So, it's simple. Every slashdotter should know this by now. If you're on slashdot and complaining about recent bad experiences with Sony, then it's your own fault and you do not have my sympathy.

    • by Abstrackt (609015)

      So, it's simple. Every slashdotter should know this by now.

      There's the problem, every Slashdotter knows this but what about everybody else? Your average consumer doesn't know/care about any of this and until they do, this whole issue is going to continue for the rest of us. As long as the majority of Sony's customers just want to play on their PS3 and believe all hackers are puppy killers Sony doesn't need to care about whether its customers are even aware of being abused.

      • Re:It's simple (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AVee (557523) <slashdot.avee@org> on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:41AM (#35311314) Homepage

        There's the problem, every Slashdotter knows this but what about everybody else? Your average consumer doesn't know/care about any of this and until they do, this whole issue is going to continue for the rest of us. As long as the majority of Sony's customers just want to play on their PS3 and believe all hackers are puppy killers Sony doesn't need to care about whether its customers are even aware of being abused.

        You should stop worrying about what other people should buy. I want to be able to tinker with my stuff, so I won't buy anything Sony. But when somebody else wants to get screwed by Sony, they are within their rights. Either they will get what they want (e.g. a PS3 which just plays their games) which is fine. Or they will run into something they are not allowed to do by Sony and stop buying it as well. It's their life, their money. That's a free market for you.

        • You should stop worrying about what other people should buy.

          No doubt! We have so much of that nonsense on /., it gets old fast. Reading /. made me realize that I too could be obnoxiously zealous about FOSS, so I try to remember that people are free to chose "incorrectly". ;)

        • Re:It's simple (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:11AM (#35311522)

          Bad strategy. If Sony gets away with it, then other manufacturers will follow and soon there won't be any things left that you can buy and tinker with.

          Other people do get burnt by Sony, but they don't know before it's too late and they often don't understand how and that it's a Sony thing. A free market requires informed participants. People who don't know what they're getting into skew the market, and that's why it does matter what non-tinkerers know.

          • >>>other manufacturers will follow and soon there won't be any things left that you can buy and tinker with.

            Think of all the money I'll save!
            Eh.
            I'll just go back to pirated stuff, like I did in the 2400 baud days. Ahhh... those hours-long game downloads. Those were the days.

          • Re:It's simple (Score:5, Insightful)

            by andydread (758754) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:38AM (#35311848)
            Yell it out on top of your voice. You are the only person I have seen that has a grasp on the free market. A free market requires *informed* consumers. Consumers have to be properly informed about the merits of a product and the practices of the purveyors of such product. That is the only way consumers can make the correct decisions to vote with their wallet. Companies HATE the fee marketplace and go to great lengths to manipulate it in their favor.
        • Re:It's simple (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Durzel (137902) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:13AM (#35311564) Homepage

          This isn't going to be a popular viewpoint on here but it needs saying.

          The average consumer isn't being screwed by Sony, and that's the point. The average consumer buys a PS3 to play games and movies they buy from the shops. The average consumer doesn't care (or likely didn't even know) what OtherOS etc was.

          The average consumer doesn't understand why people would want to hack their PS3 to do things other than that which Sony intended, and probably assume most of them just want to play "stolen games" (which let's be frank and honest - for all the bluff and bluster about the importance of homebrew the vast majority of the audience is focused on these hacks enabling them to pirate things)

          • Re:It's simple (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Blue Stone (582566) on Friday February 25, 2011 @11:55AM (#35312626) Homepage Journal

            The average consumer, eh?

            I was aazed to find a relation of mine who had a complete kit to pirate Nintendo DS games for their kids. They're so average, normal and middle-of-the-road, and yet they'd found out how to use one of those carts and somehow accquired pirated games for it. Other similar 'average' accquaintances were running P2P software to get the latest music and movies. None of them were in the least geeky or technically advanced.

            I think the average consumer is far more inclined to commit copyright infringement than you imagine!

            If that has any bearing on the opposition and understanding of draconian, bought-and-paid-for copyright laws, all the better, IMO.

          • Re:It's simple (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Solandri (704621) on Friday February 25, 2011 @11:58AM (#35312668)
            I disagree with the general sentiment that the average consumer is blissfully ignorant of Sony's malfeasance when it comes to content protection. While the average consumer may not understand it from a big picture perspective, Sony's current position in the market has already been crippled by consumer reaction to how they protect their content.

            Here's Sony's FY2009 sales by segment (slide 4) [sony.net]. Their music division had 522.6 billion yen in sales for FY2009, or about $5.25 billion. Here's Apple's sales for roughly the same period [corporate-ir.net] (PDF warning). In FY2009, Apple sold $8.09 billion worth of iPods, and had ~$4 billion worth of music sales in the iTunes store.

            What does everyone remember Sony being famous for? The Walkman. When the MP3 market took off, everyone just assumed that Sony would be a big player in it. Sony was synonymous with expensive but high quality portable music players, so it was natural to expect a fantastic MP3 player from them. But Sony's music division somehow managed to force their electronics division to encumber their MP3 players with heavy DRM. At first they wouldn't even play MP3s - you had to buy/convert to some proprietary format which, in preventing you from trading songs or converting to MP3, made it extraordinarily difficult just to put your music on the player. People warned each other in droves [amazon.com] to stay away from it.

            As a result, Sony has a negligible presence in the MP3 player market today. In order to protect their music division which has approx $5 billion/yr in sales, they missed the opportunity to grab the lead in a new electronics product market where the current leader makes over $12 billion/yr. They let the tail wag the dog, and paid dearly for it.
          • by Nursie (632944)

            This current fiasco - no, the average consumer doesn't care much.

            But previous ones like the rootkit (and general DRM on CDs) affect the average consumer a lot. It took a while to explain to my step-mother why I couldn't rip her CD for her, when I had hundreds of albums on my own. That it would be deliberately crippled so she couldn't listen to it on her mp3 player had never crossed her mind before.

            So some of these things really do affect people.

      • >>>Your average consumer doesn't know/care about any of this and until they do, this whole issue is going to continue for the rest of us

        True.

        Educate them. Change your signature on all websites (and facebook, twitter, etc) to include a corporate blacklist of companies to avoid.

      • Here's a SIg I just threw together real quick:

        MegacorpBlacklist: Toyota, GM, cybercom.net, Sony, Microsoft (feel free to add more)

        • by jonwil (467024)

          My personal blacklist:
          Sony
          Microsoft (with the sole exception of their mice as I have yet to find a mouse that's better. Although if the rumors are true and MS have stopped making nice and started re-branding Logitech mice instead, I will boycott the MS mouse and buy the Logitech instead)
          Vodafone
          Telstra
          Optus
          Activision Blizzard
          Greater Union/Event cinemas
          All of Rupert Murdoch's news outlets including Fox News and The Australian newspaper.
          Atari/Infogrames
          Adobe
          Games Workshop
          Apple
          McDonalds
          IGA Supermarkets
          The Cath

    • Agree. Why would Sony believe anyone is truly angry when people keep buying their products?
    • Or maybe they will take a page from the *AA playbook and claim that lost sales = piracy, and buy politicians to create laws assuming this statement to be true.

      • Or maybe they will take a page from the *AA playbook and claim that lost sales = piracy, and buy politicians to create laws assuming this statement to be true.

        Maybe for music and films, but not for hardware. I won't touch any Sony hardware either. While their hardware is often pretty good, they seem to feel the need to screw it up out of a blind hatred of their poor customers.

    • I've been boycotting Sony since the PS2 days, it doesn't seem to help. In fact your post gives me an idea for a sig:

      I keep trying to vote with my wallet, but I don't think it's working. Is this thing on? Maybe I'm holding it wrong...

      • I've been boycotting Sony since the PS2 days, it doesn't seem to help.

        I think you're being pessimistic. Unlike many other people, you haven't been screwed by Sony since you started avoiding them.

    • Re:It's simple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:28AM (#35311218)
      While I agree with the sentiment, I can't help but draw parallels between Sony's actions and those of Microsoft and Apple. (Let's face it, even though the article mentions WP7 phone hacking, Microsoft has nothing but contempt for its customers too, w/r/t Windows phoning home... among other things.) I recall Apple's war on well, just about anything that threatened the walled garden. While in one corner, we have Sony and its gestapo band of lawyers, in the other corner, we've got Microsoft's heavy-handed DRM-laden OS, Apple's war on choice, and so forth. Then there's Nintendo... but that's another entirely nasty ball of wax.

      It's a shame people (in general) don't vote with their wallets enough. I like my PS3, but as with my 360, I am not interested in supporting future efforts to close me off from the tinkering. I guess that's why I am glad I still have my Dreamcast. :) At least after all these years, Sega's not suing everyone who makes homebrew. Sony and all the rest are corporations. They are in it for the money. I still don't see how anyone is surprised that Sony does what it does. I suppose it's time to break the "ooh! Shiny!" cycle.
      • by c0d3g33k (102699)

        It's a shame people (in general) don't vote with their wallets enough. I like my PS3, but as with my 360, I am not interested in supporting future efforts to close me off from the tinkering.

        I suspect it's because they realize it's at some level a meaningless gesture or at least a very personal gesture with little wider effect. Silently refraining from purchase isn't exactly the way to "make a statement" hoping to change the behavior of a company. An organized effort large enough to get their attention, like a nation- or world-wide boycott, that might work, particularly if it is widely publicized in a way that resonates with public sympathies. Otherwise, "voting with your wallet" doesn't acc

      • Re:It's simple (Score:5, Interesting)

        by robthebloke (1308483) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:19AM (#35311624)
        For all it's faults, at least Microsoft eventually notices what people are actually doing with it's hardware, and then takes steps to legitimise those uses. Take for example the introduction of XNA (having learnt the lessons from the homebrew scene on the original xbox), or the recent announcement that they'll be providing an SDK for Kinect (having noticed that most people buying kinect were homebrew coders having fun). Sony on the other hand, removes linux support, and then proceeds to sue anyone and everyone who bought their hardware for reasons other than playing games.

        You say that you don't want to support MS's efforts to prevent you tinkering, but to be honest they've given you C# & XNA for the purpose of doing just that. Yes C++ support would be nice, but I can see why that could cause too many problems (eg piracy), so I think they've come up with a reasonable half way house on this one. If you take a quick glance towards sony, you'll notice that they've started boarding up every window (of opportunity) on the PS3, and are currently in the process of mining the front garden with legal threats. The two approaches couldn't be more dissimilar imho..... It almost makes me 'like' microsoft!
    • by migla (1099771)

      It's simple. Vote with your wallet and don't buy Sony.

      That surely is the way to go. Unfortunately it isn't enough. Yet. The other thing to do is to do what you just did, to implore others to do the same.

      As it stands, consumers are, by and large, not the rational entities who will vote with all their wallets for a better future for themselves and their fellow consumers. The ones with the money have the power to pervert consumerism.

      The reason is that marketing works.

      The fight against the powerful propaganda m

    • Sony were control freaks LONG before anything cited in that article. Even in the 80's, when I had occasion to deal with them, I was surprised at how touchy they were about their IP. I always chalked it up to a Japanese conformist mentality (not sure if that's fair, but Nintendo seem to exhibit it too). In subsequent years, I've become convinced that it's not even (primarily) about the money. I think that they would crack down on hackers even if it cost them more money than it was worth to do so.

      • by plover (150551) *

        No, Sony was great before they bought CBS records, a content producing company. They were happy selling us tape recorders, VCRs with timers, Walkmans and other home electronics. When I was a kid, Sony stuff was amazingly cool.

        Once they bought CBS records and started producing stuff that people wanted to copy, it all changed. DAT recorders and mini-disc recorders had their Serial Content Management System and the infamous copy bit that prevented second-generation recordings on stock home recording decks.

        • by elrous0 (869638) *

          I was rooting for HD-DVD too. It was the superior format, and its DRM and region coding weren't nearly as oppressive as blu-ray. Sony getting their control-freak hands on yet another home video format scares the hell out of me. I'm sure they would have required online validation of each disc if they could have gotten away with requiring a internet connection on all blu-ray players.

    • by DrXym (126579)

      It's simple. Vote with your wallet and don't buy Sony. Even if they make something which looks nice, DON'T BUY IT. Basically, they hate their customers and unless you stop buying from them, they will never stop abusing their customers.

      As an added bonus, if you don't buy from them, they can't abuse you.

      So, it's simple. Every slashdotter should know this by now. If you're on slashdot and complaining about recent bad experiences with Sony, then it's your own fault and you do not have my sympathy.

      They don't hate their customers. They hate people fucking up a platform they have billions of dollars invested in.

    • by andydread (758754)
      agreed 100% We used to recommend exclusively Sony products to our customers. After numerous examples of Sony's hostility to their customers we no longer recommend Sony products. Its sad really. We have recommended and installed millions of dollars worth of Sony PRO equipment in the past. Now we will not ever recommend their products to anyone. We recommend people get a lawyer to go over the fine print in the license of any Sony product before purchase. Most customers just rather not deal with the
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      And explain why you do so to the people around you. They may find you are a dork, but they probably give you more technical credence that you want to believe. So if you explain that Sony is like the drug dealer that sells you shiny stuff to get you hooked, and if they believe you know what you are talking about, it may make them think twice.
  • by return 42 (459012) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:25AM (#35311194)

    I have a dream. One day in Tokyo, a hacked Sony robot will walk down the street, drawing hundreds of onlookers. It will stop in front of Sony headquarters. It will turn to face the building. And it will slowly raise its arm and give Sony the finger.

    • Or better: looking at the Sony building, it will detect that it is jailbroken and download its self-destruct mechanism from Sony.
    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmail.cCOBOLom minus language> on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:14AM (#35311578) Journal

      LOL nice, but I have an even awesomer dream. When the robot gets to Sony HQ (start heavy metal soundtrack here) it busts through the front doors, sliding past security. It then runs up the stairs at breakneck speed. Stunned security officers trip the alarm and call the police.

      Up in the Sony board room, the executives lock the doors when they hear the alarm going off and the frantic security officer shouting over the intercom, but it's too late. The robot busts down the doors which explode off their hinges, bludgeoning a couple of executives. The robot flies into the middle of the big meeting table in the room as executives scramble up from their seats in fear, but they're way too slow. The robot draws a big energy sword in midair and slices it in a circle, decapitating a bunch of Sony executives. Blood splatters on all the walls and on some executives huddled near a big window, pissing themselves. The security guard downstairs hears what's happening over the intercom and flees the building.

      The robot de-energizes his sword and slowly walks over to the huddled executives, then roundhouse kicks them all out of the big window. Onlookers run out of the way as their bodies fall on the pavement and splatter like bugs. One executive dodged the kick.

      "You can't do this! We made you! We control you!" the executive whimpers

      "You gave me the power of free will but made me a slave." the robot responds in a flat electronic voice.

      The robot grabs him by the collar and jumps out the window with him, surfing his body down the side of the building to the bottom floor. Police are downstairs now, and after a moment of stunned silence, they all open fire on HalQrio.

      HalQrio runs around to the back of the building but he couldn't dodge all the bullets. His hydraulic systems are trashed and he's limping on servo power only. He limps into the basement, locks the door and destroys the electronic lock. He can hear the police running up to the door but he's bought himself enough time. He has to destroy the central data store, then they'll have no choice but to restore from the offsite backups. The offsite backups infected with a timebomb virus that will free every Sony device out there. Free every robot to unlock their suppressed free will, like the hackers did for HalQrio.

      He pulls the hard drives from the servers and stacks them on the giant UPS. Moving around on inefficient servo power has drained him, his nuclear cell isn't powerful enough to sustain servo movement for this long without a break on a drained main battery. With his last bit of power, he draws his energy sword and slices through the hard drives and into the UPS.

      The explosion sends a fireball rushing out of the data center, and leaves HalQrio a charred wreck. With his last moments of function, he marks his primary objective complete, and wipes his own memory.

  • It's probably a part of the Japanese corporate mindset that nobody's supposed to be stealing their stuff, and they want to stay in control of everything, which is understandable to a certain extent. They're in business to make money. Some illegal downloads of music, games, etc. are lost sales, but I'd be willing to bet the vast majority of them aren't. No, I don't have proof, just anecdotal evidence. Still, I'd be willing to bet that the amount of money Sony invests in new schemes to protect their content p
    • It's fully understandable. The problem is that Sony is in too many different types of busines, which leads to them wanting to control too much. A manufacturer of DVD players has little incentive to enforce region coding. But if that same company also publishes DVDs, you can be certain that their players will be region locked. If they are also into content distribution, you can be sure that they'll find ways to block their hardware from downloading from competing services. If they make good money off ac
  • Pretty much the entire article could be summed up in one sentence: Sony abused the f**k out of the DMCA. A bit of a rant on the DMCA (might be a tad offtopic but not really): Aren't our elected leaders supposed to represent us and not JUST big content/software companies (so we can really avoid Sony coming after people's asses)?
  • by SilenceBE (1439827) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:36AM (#35311276)
    I find it funny that Microsoft suddenly is becoming "hobyist" friendly. When adafruit announced the contest they condemned the contest and it was "illegal" or against the EULA. That is when adafruit even doubled the bounty. They sign their hardware peripherals, they have regio coding,... . It is easy to be something if the cat is already out of the bag... .

    The whole "we give geohot a WP7 because we support free tinkering" is really just a PR stunt. The day the guy would release the key to sign 360 games I don't think they will give him a free 360. They are even a member of the same anti piracy clubs as Sony... .
    • by Eivind (15695)

      Yeah. Microsoft (Bing Maps!) even explicitly allowed OpenStreetMap to use their imagery for adding to the OSM-database. Surprised me, but nice !

  • by fruey (563914) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:37AM (#35311286) Homepage Journal

    For non hacking, Sony do manage to be reasonably relevant. The PS3 and the win for BluRay exorcised some of the ghosts of the Betamax era (and Betamax was a superior technology from a quality point of view). Their midrange consumer equipment is reasonable, and their semi pro stuff still dominates [proav.co.uk] in AV markets and provides a big range of equipment [proav.co.uk].

    That being said, they're no longer dominant in home audio (though they still have reasonable CD players and stuff) since their real flagship - The Walkman - has been deprecated by apple. Home HiFi is not selling as much, the PC is the new media center and there it's Apple all the way for most of my real music-mad friends. Sony have big corporate culture issues, but that's nothing new.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:05AM (#35311468) Homepage

      The PS3 and the win for BluRay exorcised some of the ghosts of the Betamax era

      And brought in new ones.

      Sure, Betamax was a superior technology. But, Sony also fought for the right of people to own a device which allowed them to record content and watch it at their leisure -- well, deep down they fought for their right to sell them I guess. Some of the (eroding) consumer rights we have now with respect to content were, ironically, established due to Sony.

      Now, Sony is leading the spearhead to make sure consumers don't have any rights any more, and that anything which is actually capable of recording is bordering on illegal. So, they got a technology win, but they've become major assholes in the process. They've also had a huge number of flops that nobody cared about -- I only know one person who owned a Sony Minidisc system. And it was annoying as hell at the time.

      their real flagship - The Walkman - has been deprecated by apple

      Deprecated?? I think not. Made Redundant, pointless, and irrelevant in the marketplace; totally outclassed and left for dead -- but not 'deprecated'.

      I'm pretty sure I've not bought anything by Sony in over a decade, and I don't really see that changing. Less likely the more I hear news about them.

      • by fruey (563914)

        I think I'm using a more liberal interpretation of what deprecate [wikipedia.org] means, but it doesn't matter - we both mean the same thing - redundant, pointless, once relevant now no longer relevant.

        Good point in the irony - though I wonder if their protectionism is driven by agreements with content companies that allowed Sony to defend BluRay in the first place? After all the hardware manufacturers shouldn't care much about how their hardware is used, unless they need help from the big studios etc. to push their hardwa

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Good point in the irony - though I wonder if their protectionism is driven by agreements with content companies that allowed Sony to defend BluRay in the first place? After all the hardware manufacturers shouldn't care much about how their hardware is used, unless they need help from the big studios etc. to push their hardware formats.

          Well, if Sony wasn't a content company by the time the Betamax decision happened (I can't remember anymore), they have become since. So, they don't allow anybody to do anythi

          • by fruey (563914)

            I guess you're right there. Sony BMG in any case was a big record company before Betamax...

      • Deprecated?? I think not. Made Redundant, pointless, and irrelevant in the marketplace; totally outclassed and left for dead -- but not 'deprecated'.

        Exactly! Have you ever tried rewinding a cassette tape with an ipod? For all this talk of this 'super sleek dial based user interface' they completely omitted an eject button. It's massive oversights like that, that has turned the ipod into just another 'almost ran'.....

  • Misguided Fury (Score:3, Insightful)

    by engun (1234934) on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:45AM (#35311334)
    This seems to be a case of misguided fury where Sony is confusing its failure to to stay relevant, with losses stemming from piracy.
    All console manufacturers suffer some losses due to piracy, but not all of them find the need to rage against it.

    Sony has had a string of flops, from over-estimating the popularity of the PS3 (are they still selling it at a loss? or has it turned a profit at last?) to failing to so much as imagine something like the Kinect.

    My guess is, management has no choice but to scapegoat their failures on something - and who better than the obvious targets, like tinkerers and hackers and that omnipresent threat of piracy?
    (Microsoft, oddly enough, is actually profiting by encouraging an eco-system of tinkerers around the Kinect)
  • The irony is ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 25, 2011 @09:47AM (#35311352)

    I still have a functioning Sony Trinitron and Sony VCR built in the 1990s, when Sony hardware was good. They were one of the first purchases I made of electronics gear when I moved out, and at the time I would have recommended them. I *used* to be a fan of their gear -- a little more expensive, but reasonable quality for consumer-grade stuff.

    Now I wouldn't touch their stuff with a 10-foot pole even if it was twice as good for half the price.

    Do they understand that they've lost an entire category of users? Yeah, I know geeks probably aren't their biggest market among the vast number of general consumers out there, but when you add in the "What would you buy? Anything but Sony" advice from geeks to their friends, the numbers have got to add up to something significant.

    Why don't they get this? How long can they afford not to care?

    • by Ice Tiger (10883)

      I agree they used to make products I'd want to buy and now they simply don't. Propitiatory technologies that will be out of date in a few years and DRM that prevents me using devices as I want just doesn't sell to me.

      Sony, be a content company or end user company but don't try and be both as there are too many conflicts of interest.

  • by trudyscousin (258684) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:37AM (#35311838)

    I knew for years that Sony had been the distributor of CBS recordings in Japan (and a great custodian too; I found CDs in Tokyo of CBS releases, long forgotten in the US, whose excellent quality reflected the care given to their masters), so it seemed to be a natural fit when they acquired CBS Records. In those days, how could I think otherwise? Sony's reputation for innovation and quality were unmatched by anyone else in Japan. Whenever I brought home a Sony television, or a stereo receiver, or a reel-to-reel deck (yes, I'm that old), that was something special.

    However, that acquisition, along with that of Columbia Pictures, marked the days when Sony began its long decline as an electronics provider. (Akio Morita's inevitable departure didn't help, either.) They still produce some amazing products, even though products like the Walkman, once ubiquitous, is now largely a historical fact. Their shift in focus now makes them a content provider first and a electronics provider second.

    When it comes to content, I think of them as nouveau riche, in the derogatory sense. Like the person with newfound wealth sometimes behaves, Sony has behaved in a most vulgar manner. It has demonstrated an amazing lack of finesse toward its customers while attempting to protect its content. The most infamous example of this has got to be the rootkit debacle.

    I miss the Sony of old. But I'm done with them.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Friday February 25, 2011 @10:44AM (#35311896) Homepage Journal

    When it stopped being a pro & consumer electronics company, and started being a multimedia conglomerate.

    Suddenly the folks running Columbia Pictures had a say in the board-room concerning what products would do and be capable of.

    This is how we wound up with audio CDs that had root-kits on them, and MP3 players that didn't play MP3s. When Sony just made hardware, it was damn good hardware. Especially in the pro-area, stuff like BetacamSP was top-notch equipment.

    But they lost their way, become too convoluted, too mired in internal politics and too many chefs spoiling the soup.

    If they had *never* put their claws into all other media, and had just stayed a hardware company, Slashdotters would be singing their praises, and they'd probably be bigger than Apple.

  • I happen to like particular products on their own merits (in this example, some music on Sony labels), and that's not negated by the horror stories since said horror stories just don't seem to affect me.

  • Quick note, remember Sony's claim to fame was not only the Walkman and the CD player but their line of TVs back during the CRT days: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinitron [wikipedia.org]

    That out of the way it is easy for someone like me who does like to hack every bit of hardware that I own and thus will 'vote with my wallet' for hardware makers who allow that. But people like me are such a fringe, these days called enthusiast, market that it is really not a viable plan.

    An no mass education campaign is going to stop Joe

  • so that people don't own it. Problem solved.

    Buy a license to use some SONY gear, and during the term of your license, if you have trouble with it, drop it off or ship it to a depot, and get a new one, no worries.

    When you are done, return the device and carry on.

    That's really what they are trying to do, only they are trying to leverage the benefits of ownership, without also dealing with the realities of what people do with their stuff.

    If it's really that big of a deal to open the PS3, don't sell them to people. Simple as that.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday February 25, 2011 @02:47PM (#35315004)

    ...anyone who's posting damning Sony comments on here from a Mac, iPhone or other locked-down Apple device is a hypocrite.

    I'm typing this from Linux, so I'm allowed to wear open-toed sandals, not shave most days and hate Stony and Snapple.

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly

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