Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Arrogance Disappearing Act

Today I attended a conference at the national Sears HQ in Toronto with two co-workers and my boss. The day's events consisted of several presentations made by representatives from major manufacturers such as Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, and Monster Cable. Because I'm not a (real) journalist (yet) and this was not a press conference, I could not conduct a proper interview with the representatives from Sony. Why would I want to do that? To see the looks on their proud faces when I confronted them with difficult facts, of course. Also, however unlikely this was, I hoped I'd get some insider information which I'd later spread via this blog to attain fame and glory. It did not turn out like that, but my attempt to challenge them didn't exactly fall flat on its face. Intrigued?

All recording was prohibited for the duration of the meeting, but here, pulled from my memory and a smattering of hastily-taken notes, is a fairly accurate transcript of the brief interview:


Dave: I have a question regarding the PS3. For the record, my store doesn't carry them yet, but in view of the fact that we got some Nintendo Wiis in last night, it seems likely that we'll be carrying PS3s in the near future. Now, if I had to sell somebody a PS3 today, I don't think I could do it. Personally, I'm more sold on the 360 for a few reasons: the big one being that it's got all the exclusive titles. The PS3 is obviously lacking exclusive titles and big names, (with the exception of Metal Gear Solid 4) and that's a huge issue for most people. So, if a savvy costumer came to you with this argument, what selling points would you hit them with, aside from the PS3's slight graphical advantage and its Blu-ray capability? Is there something good coming up that I don't know about?

Rebecca Grant, Sony Retail Support Specialist: (Coughs.) That's a good question, really, and to be honest with you, my associates and I aren't really equipped with the kind of product knowledge to give you a full answer. We're more specialized in TVs, home theatre, that sort of thing. Playstation is really more of a unit all on their own. But yeah, if you find that you are going to be selling PS3s then I would definitely look into that more if I were you. (nods encouragingly) But our understanding - Sony's general perspective - is not looking at the PS3 so much as a pure gaming machine, but as an overall entertainment system with Blu-ray capability and so on. So as far as selling them to people I'd go with that selling point, highlighting those kinds of features is probably your best angle. As far as the other details go, I'm sorry, but there's really not much we can tell you because it's just not really our area. Ok?

Sony Employee 'B', (real name withheld): Actually I can answer some of those questions, I'll talk to you after.

'B', (privately): Yeah, man, I'm gonna be honest with you: I own both systems, the PS3 and the 360, and I love them both. They're both great consoles. And it's true what she said about the Blu-ray capability being a really nice feature - with the big hard drive in the Playstation's gut the whole thing makes for a really nice little media centre. Plus there's the compatibility with the PSP, which is also a really nice feature that just makes everything feel more connected and mobile. Know what I mean?

Dave: Yeah, you create perks for owning multiple Sony products.

'B': Haha, yeah. And like you said, the one thing that is lacking is decent software support. It's an issue we're aware of and, you know, we're working on it and doing everything we can.

Dave: Right. Yeah.

'B': That clear things up?

Dave: Absolutely. Thanks.

'B': No problem. Take care.


I'm still processing what I learned today, but my overall opinion of Sony, the most obnoxious group since the Sophists of ancient Greece, might be due for a change. I live in my world, and today I got to play briefly in theirs.

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At 1:02 AM, Blogger paul said...

Don't know if you've looked at this alrleady but,

Shows just how badly sony is getting destroyed in the console selling market. I think what happened was they focused far too much on the whole blu-ray bit, and didn't get near enough software support to make up for it.

The killing blow now though is that you can get an hd-dvd player for 240usd with 8 free movies included. The ps3 version will cost you 472usd with 8 free movies.

My point, obviously, is that the whole blu-ray advantage is disappearing into thin air as hd-dvd and blu-ray players are going as cheap as 200usd, so there's no real point in buying a ps3 just for the blu-ray player.

If I was able to ask one question to the sony employees, it would have to be: How is the ps3 going to remain competitive now that blu-ray player prices are at such a low cost?

Of course, I'd assume they'd give you some snowjob answer like, there's more games coming, or the blu-ray is just one feature or something like that.

*If you have the second conference today and read this before going to it, you should try bringing up the point of wii's and 360's outselling ps3's by ~6million units.*

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

Cool :]

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Spunk Maestro said...

I'm impressed Dave, you've got some pro interviewing skills.

Sony's goal has always been to control the entire electronics industry from CDs to cameras to gaming consoles. So even though the PS3 might not be the most popular gaming console right now the 6 million PS3s sold worldwide have already given Sony's blu-ray format a huge lead over HD-DVD. I'd even say that their strategy is good one but they consistently disappoint with their over-arrogant press statements and losing exclusive titles.

The Wii on the other hand is a completely different strategy and is benefiting Nintendo immediately. Microsoft's 360 strategy lies somewhere in between the two and they say that with the release of Halo 3 it will actually make Microsoft some money.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Brillo said...

Huzzah! Thanks for the feedback guys!

I'm home from the second part of the conference - unfortunately presentations were over with and we just spent the time basically being taught selling techniques and doing group work.

Anyway, as I hinted at the end of my post, I have more respect for Sony now. They're arrogant because they get so much love, which they get because...gasp...a lot of their products really are excellent. I say this after having watched several presentations by reps from several manufacturers. Except for struggling a bit to answer my nervy questions, Sony dominated with content and quality.

At 7:24 PM, Blogger paul said...

As a follow-up you should make a post every once in a while about the blu-ray hd-dvd battle. It would be interesting to see some info coming from both sides. Maybe hd-dvd will catch up to blu-ray? Who knows?


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