Washington Times writer Sonny Bunch has released a very controversial article saying that instead of trying to bolster the PS3 and Blu-ray as much as possible, Sony is hindering and sabotaging the system and the format. Sounds crazy, right? Well, he actually makes a few good points.
First of all, he criticizes Sony because in these bad economic times, instead of releasing a cheaper console, they released a more expensive SKU:
We're dealing with the worst economy since the Carter years. Deflation looms. Businesses desperately need a big holiday push to boost the bottom line. The Nintendo Wii remains the most popular system in the land, and, at $250, isn't necessarily a budget buster. Xbox 360 has made serious inroads by dropping the price of its core system to $199. So how did Sony respond?
By releasing a new version of the PS3... that's $100 more expensive. Yes, it comes with a game, and yes, it has more hard-drive space, to which I respond: Who cares? Was the marketplace clamoring for more memory from the PS3? Is that why its market penetration is so low compared to its predecessors and competition? What were the Sony execs thinking?
I agree with the author fully on this point. Releasing a more expensive SKU in this economic climate wasn't the best decision in the world.
Then, he goes on to blame Sony for not including Netflix streaming abilities in their console:
Now consider the following facts: Samsung has just released a Blu-ray player that will stream Netflix movies. (In other words, you can pick a select number of movies from the Netflix library and watch them instantly on your TV.) The Xbox 360 has just added the same capability.
How does Sony respond? By allowing PS3 owners to stream Netflix movies? No, that would make too much sense. Instead, Sony said Netflix couldn't stream any title from Sony's library to the Xbox. That'll show 'em!
I don't agree with this point somewhat because we have no idea whether or not some type of exclusivity deal was made between Microsoft and Netflix that would keep the service only on the Xbox 360. However, Sony could always court Blockbuster and their online service, so he may have a point.
And lastly, he faults Sony for their marketing of Blu-ray, saying that the customer is still very ignorant about the service:
Sony also has done a terrible job of marketing Blu-ray players as a whole. Consumers don't seem to understand the benefit Blu-ray offers to owners of large standard-definition (SD) DVD collections. I have had conversations with reasonably tech-savvy people who didn't realize Blu-ray would upconvert the image of an SD-DVD to near-HD quality.
Sony and the rest of the Blu-ray manufacturers need to implement a radical shift in their marketing strategy: Hammer home the fact that not only will their new Blu-ray player play high-definition movies, it also will vastly improve the picture quality of their previously purchased libraries.
This is where I disagree with the author mostly. He says that people are so ignorant about Blu-ray players, citing an example of someone telling him they bought an HD-DVD player (after the formats demise) because he "wanted something that would play old DVDs".
I think Sony has done everything they can to market Blu-ray; just look at Best Buy. Walk into that store and you are fully blasted by Blu-ray marketing. The consumers that don't understand the format now must be living under a rock because it is being advertised everywhere, and one of the biggest features that I've seen in the advertisements is the players' ability to upscale DVDs.
So all in all, some of the author's points are valid, particularly the one regarding the expensive SKU. However, the current state of the economy is a much bigger factor in the lower than expected sales of the PS3 and the lower install base of Blu-ray, not Sony "sabotaging" the system. That's just a little melodramatic. More PlayStation 3 News...