Sony Online Service - Third Time is the Charm?
In interviews with the media yesterday, Sir Howard Stringer, Sony’s CEO, declared he’s finally got the winning formula for the service business that has effectively connected the Sony ecosystem of hardware and digital experiences. But what’s different this time?
Stringer claims a management re-organization begun at the beginning of the year is now complete, facilitating greater coordination between teams. However, leaders driving the company’s networked services vision are actually company insiders, Kazuo Hirai, former Group Chief Executive Officer and President of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and as its President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios since February 29, 2008 and Tim Schaaf, Sony’s SVP of Software Development, who has been with the company since Dec 2005. Back in 2006, CEO Howard Stringer also committed that Sony would “enhance product interoperability” after Schaaf took the reins.
Like Microsoft has done with Xbox Live, Sony plans to build the networked services platform on their gaming business, Playstation, the company’s most successful platform so far, with 33 million registered users and expected revenue of $500 million this year. Previous digital service attempts, Sony Connect and PressPlay, have pivoted off their iconic music brand, the Walkman, and attempted to mimic the Apple-iTunes ecosystem of hardware and software. Says one former Sony executive, “This is just another 'me, too,' response. Someone should lock Sir Howard in a room with one new box of every product the company delivers and not let him out till he can set each one up himself, and connect them to each other and the Internet.”