Went to see President Ando of Sony. He is second in command under Chairman Idei and is more and more in charge of representing Sony in the US. He gave the speech at CES this year and said some some very interesting things. First he pushed open standards.

Ando said Sony will also work to use open standards in future products to make it easier for consumers to more widely access content on devices and urged other companies to help to establish these standards to help the industry progress.
Then he complained about the difficulty of the current record label business.
Steven Levy
After the keynote, Ando unwound at a dinner for a few journalists, where talk turned to the knotty problem of digital rights. He startled everyone by speculating that in the long term, given the nature of Internet copying, record labels may not have a future. "When you have a problem like this," he says, sighing, "I really wish we were a simple hardware company."
My kind of guy. We talked about blogs (of course), open standards and how cool it would be for Sony to really embrace open standards and let the blog tools and services talk to Sony products through open standards that we worked on together.

12 Comments

Since you can do what many of us can't-talk to president Ando- can you pass the following message. For years now I saw Sony computer division trying to innovate and build the home of the future where everything is connected. I personally think that Sony has a unique opportunity to do something very special and the key to that is Linux. Apple has embraced BSD and made a powerful user friendly operating system that is OS-X and I think Sony can do the same with Linux. Microsoft has been slowing down Sony's innovation in the computer market. Microsoft Windows is an inferior technology and is closed-source therefore in order for Sony to innovate and build the computer platform that it wants; it needs to use Linux. Another technology that I would love to see Sony use in its products is Jini, I dream of having Sony's products Jini enabled and running Linux.

Cool. Hey, the next time you see him, ask him which I should get: the NS715P or the NS755V? Thanks. Oh, and tell him I hate the MemoryStick.

hi, we're also very interested in the idea!

nadeem, your sentiments are being vocalized within certain areas of the company as well for sure. There is obvious interest in weening the company off of reliance from other institutions, particularly MS. Unfortunately, as you can imagine it's not as easy; comparing Sony to Apple is in some respects a bit like oranges and ... well, apples ;) (although that difference is arguably shrinking). Sony was working on its own OS for a while, but it's a large undertaking for sure; that project has since taken the same path as BeOS. A model akin to Apple's, ala building atop a freely available platform, would be an interesting idea, but Sony hasn't exactly been known for its software (which could be used as an incentive, mind you; i'm not saying it shouldn't be done :) You might find Idei-san's comments about Palm interesting at Tim Perkins' site if you haven't seen it already (www.alwayson-network.com); some interesing snippets with regard to Apple as well. It's also interesting (and gratifying) to see Kutaragi being promoted -- all too often Japanese companies have shafted their bright achievers due to envy; Idei-san is so far sticking to his word about running things more like an American company.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January this year, the first three keynote speeches were Microsoft (Gates), Sony (Ando) and Intel (Barrett).

Mr. Gates presented his vision of "Always Connected, All the TIme, to All Your Media and Data" with MS Standards.

Mr. Ando presented his vision of "Always Connected, All the TIme, to All Your Media and Data" with the words "Open Standards" and Penguins all over their Powerpoint.

Mr. Barrett presented his vision of "Always Connected, All the TIme, to All Your Media and Data" without any mention of OS.

While in some ways Microsoft and Sony are different, the only place they're not competeing is in traditional media. I keep expecting Gates to buy a Studio and a Record Label at any moment so that they're head to head everywhere.

Meanwhile Intel just grins all the way to the bank. They don't really need to care about the OS.

Also interesting was that all three said they were committed to protecting the rights of creative people while empowering the individual to have the same rights to their media they've always had. Only none of them would say how this was gonna happen :-)

Except Sony did announce that they'd joined up with Philips to try to buy Intertrust. Haven't looked lately to see what's happening there.

As soon as DCC (digital compact cassette)bit the dust, Philips got rid of Polygram. They knew it would turn out to be more trouble than it was worth. The only reason they had it in the first place was so that they could use it to foist unwanted new formats on the music-buying public.

The corollary is that Sony should sell Sony Music, as minidisc approaches its final countdown. Of course, Sony now know that if they decided to sell Sony, it would show such a loss of confidence in the sector that they wouldn't be able to get book value for it.

Also, the rest of the Sony media empire is still handy, as a means to force movie-watchers to upgrade their DVD players.

Cynical? Me!?

SME being part of their "media empire", i wouldn't dump them so fast; have you listened to SACDs? it's a whole new world; you don't need any LSD (at least for now :) for the euphoric effect thanks to the incredible fidelity. the minidisc phasing out is just to make room for memorystick and other solid state formats; SACD for the audiophiles for now; same ol' marketing scheme as when the CD was introduced over the tape and LP. plus, SME artists probably bring in a hefty cash load through the promo aspects -- think PepsiCo, etc. Who knows what's in store with Lack cutting out 1k jobs though; hopefully there's a viable business plan in place, probably proposed by Apple :)

About a year ago a coworker and I used to have this on and off discussion about the XBox vs. the PS and how the battle would eventually turn out. In all that time I never considered the *nix angle. I blame the fact that these discussions ussually occured in the morning when complete sentences, much less thoughts, were beyond me. Fun implications in that though.

Random theory that came out of those discussions though; MS is trying to turn everything into a computer. Sony is trying to turn everything into a home entertainment component. Not sure where that came from, but I always thought it was a neat idea.

Check out this interview with Nobuyuki Idei for even more juicy revelations. Tons of them in fact, can't remember ever reading such a candid interview with a ceo.

"But you know Steve (Jobs), he has his own agenda. [Laughs.] Although he is a genius, he doesn't share everything with you. This is a difficult person to work with if you are a big company. We started working with them, but it is a nightmare."

"Perkins: Do you worry about the Xbox?

Idei: No, not at all."

"Idei: The music industry has been spoiled. They have controlled the distribution of music by producing CDs, and thereby have also protected their profits. So they have resisted Internet distribution. Six years ago I asked Sony Music to start working with IBM to figure out how to offer secured distribution of their content over the Net. But nobody in Sony Music would listen. Then about six months ago, they started to panic. They have to change their mindset away from selling albums, and think about selling singles over the Internet for as cheap as possible—even 20 cents or 10 cents—and encourage file-sharing so they can also get micro-payments for these files. The music industry has to re-invent itself, we can no longer control distribution they way we used to. Most entertainment executives understand this, but how to exactly execute on this model is more difficult. "

"Perkins: You would buy Palm's software business?

Idei: Yes, if they want to sell. "

"Idei: Interesting. But whatever way Sony goes, we want to be in control of the roadmap. "

"Perkins: Because you need a long-term OS expert, I guess that there are really four choices here: Microsoft, IBM, Sun, and Apple.

Idei: That's right. I think that IBM and Sun work. It's interesting that IBM has more Java software developers than Sun. "

"Idei: Sun has problems with their management structure. We are supplying them SRAM chips so we know this. "

"Perkins: I'm sure Microsoft would like to provide this solution for you….

Idei: Microsoft wants to use their code for everything, but that is impossible."

note on the previous post: the formatting didn't turn out great, those are a bunch of quotes from various parts of the article, not a linear sequence of any sort.

Wouldn't Sony hurt linux in the long run? While Microsoft champions proprietary software standards, Sony champions proprietary hardware standards--think betamax, memorystick, minidisc and other interop killers. As with all proprietary technologies, some are innovative and advance the state of the art but others are a way to optimize profitability and lock people into a system. Since all hardware requires software at some level, this seems worse. I only have one vendor to choose for both needs.

While Sony isn't as publicly hated (except by Mariah Carey) as Microsoft, it seems like they do their part to limit interoperability as much as anyone. You could argue that the GPL would limit some of this behavior but Sony could just build proprietary parts on top of linux instead of building them into the OS.

Chris Yu write:

> Since all hardware requires software at
> some level, this seems worse. I only
> have one vendor to choose for both
> needs.

hm, i think it's the other way around -- all software requires hardware at some level. Hardware doesn't necessarily need software, it has just progressed to that level. Software, on the otherhand, never existed until hardware matured. Just think toaster-ovens, coffee-grinders (w/o the timers :), my Aeron chair -- the essentials of the (home...) office

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I read an interesting interview with the Chairman of Sony, Nobuyuki Idei. The interview is three months old, but sound bites are interesting. March 2003 interview with Idei (Sony Chairman). Among the more interesting points: - The Sony-Ericcson joint v... Read More

I read an interesting interview with the Chairman of Sony, Nobuyuki Idei. The interview is three months old, but sound bites are interesting. March 2003 interview with Idei (Sony Chairman). Among the more interesting points: - The Sony-Ericcson joint v... Read More

I read an interesting interview with the Chairman of Sony, Nobuyuki Idei. The interview is three months old, but sound bites are interesting. March 2003 interview with Idei (Sony Chairman). Among the more interesting points: - The Sony-Ericcson joint v... Read More

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