An Economist article examining Sony’s future says the company could learn something from Apple.
For instance, Sony could learn to pay more attention to open-source software, make networked devices that are not controlled by Microsoft software or easy for others to manufacture cheaply. But most of all, according to the Economist, Sony must find a way to keep its digital devices from “wreaking havoc” on its media business by encouraging piracy.
The article says that Apple’s best-selling iPod is the kind of “path-breaking gadget” that Sony itself should be coming up with. The article calls Apple’s iPod the “Walkman of the early 21st century” and quotes one critic as saying that “people walking around with an iPod and an Apple PowerBook look much cooler than those equipped with a Clie and a Vaio notebook.” Of course, Apple doesn’t have one advantage in designing such a product: it’s simply not as all-encompassing as Sony.
“One reason for the iPod’s success is that Apple, which owns no content businesses, suffers none of Sony’s hang-ups about protecting its own digital content,” the Economist reports. “Sony’s hang-ups are not imaginary. Piracy is eating into revenues in the music business: global music sales fell by an estimated 9 percent last year. If networked devices and greater bandwidth eventually do the same to video content, Sony’s film business could be among the first to suffer.”