Back in 2000, I was looking at the coming technological convergence centered around the living room.
At the time, you had two players, Sony and Microsoft. (Apple hadn’t really entered the picture yet). There was no question who was going to win, it was Sony. Sony had just released the PS2 and it was impressive. There was talk about how you would be able to add a hard drive and turn it into a tivo-like thing. It was ready for the internet. It was going to replace your PC! The PS2 was a PC, but with an operating system tuned to media.
The XBox was also cool, but it was a game machine, and nothing more. Microsoft had released the XBox in a huge push. They knew that Sony was coming after the PC and they had to retaliate (they already had the MediaPC at this point). It is now six years later, and Microsoft is winning, and it is all Sony’s fault. Sony has followed in the immortal footsteps of Netscape, Real Networks and countless others who lost to Microsoft by throwing away their technological lead (rather than having Microsoft beat them). Sony lost before it really got in the game. XBox Live came out and it was sucky, but it got better. The Sony equivalent came out much later and it never got less sucky. Then the PSP came out, which I love, although most hate. I thought that this could have been an excellent move for Sony, but then they didn’t bother making it work with the PS2 or integrate with anything else in their convergence lineup, in fact they used it as an opportunity to foist yet another media type on the world, UMD. How’d that work out for ya, Sony?
Meanwhile, MS pumped out another console. It was another not-quite-there-but-got-better machine. Everyone said that the headstart the 360 had on the PS3 wasn’t going to matter, because the hardcore would wait. And I think they did, for the most part. And then Sony blew it again: a humongo price tag (you thought that the 360 was expensive?!?), half-done software, a new non-industry-standard media type, a trickle of production units, WTF Sony? To be fair, there are some serious issues with the 360 as well; but, by the time the PS3 had come out, Microsoft had fixed a bunch of them.
This irks me, because I really thought that if someone was going to make this work and seemless, it was going to be Sony. They invented the freaking walkman! They work both sides of the aisle, technology and content. They should have won this market years ago. I’m not ready to call them out yet: they are a huge company, they have a lot of compelling products. If they could finally stitch them together seemlessly, they could win. I don’t think they will though.
Now it is up to you Apple. You’ll win… if you don’t do something really stupid…
(disclaimer: I own Microsoft and Sony stock)