Sony says it's sorry and it's listening

Written by Brett Thomas

January 7, 2008 // 4:18 p.m.

Tags: #alpha #bravia #camcorders #ces-2008 #events #phone #ps3 #sony #walkman

Sony is a company that many of us in the industry - journalists and consumers alike - love to hate. The indisputable arrogance flaunted in 2006 as the PS3 was in its final development put a lot of us off, but that was only part of it. Rootkits, proprietary standards and the ever-marching beat of corporate fluffy spam in an effort to hide dismal sales reports and stagnant market share certainly made up another good portion.

That, and everyone loves to laugh at a falling giant.

Well, at the press event to start off CES, the proud goliath did what nobody expected - out walked Stan Glasgow, COO of Sony Electronics America, and with a clear voice he addressed the communication problems that the company has had with its consumers. He acknowledged that in 2006, their approach alienated a lot of people - and he apologized.

No corporate backpedaling, no fluff. Allow us to paraphrase below.

"Our approach wasn't good. It failed and alienated many of you. We're sorry for that, and we spent most of 2007 taking a new approach - listening. We hope our 2008 product line shows that, but we aren't going to stop, either. If we didn't get it right, keep telling us. And if we did, tell us how we can make it even better."

Product launches for Sony this year are largely updates to the Sony Bravia line of TVs, the Walkman line of music phones, and the cameras - including the Sony Alpha dSLR.

There was also a very interesting announcement about the Sony Milo, which is targeted at the mobile market in much the same way as the popular Asus Eee PC. We'll get back to you with more details on this when we stop at the Sony booth on Tuesday, but the basic idea includes Intel processors and a lineup of screens 3.5" and up.

Overall, the releases were largely standard upgrades, but well-thought out across the line. Bravia updates include a new modularity feature to cut down on the requirement for separate devices connecting to the TV. The current options will include modules for more HDMI ports and a built-in DVD player (but not Blu-ray, at least as mentioned in the press conference. Also brought out are new control features, where the TV can control other devices via the HDMI link.

But one thing is for sure - nothing is quite so interesting as the apology and the promise to make a better 2008. With talk of dumping DRM, an effort for wireless communication and a product line that clearly shows the company is seeing its previous faults and no longer resting on his laurels, it seems that this time Sony just might not be spinning this one.

Do you have a thought on the news? Drop into the forums and voice your ideas.

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