The Truth About Sony (Part I)
Having recently had to choose between one of Sony’s HDTVs and an LG I fell in love with (I’ve reviewed it here) and working in a business in which we spend enormous amounts of time talking about the market and it’s technology, I thought it might be high time to talk about a theme that’s en vogue at the moment: The hype surround HDTVs made by Sony.
You know that movie that one of your friends tells you that you just “have to go see?” That’s how we sometimes feel about their sets around here. Splashy ads, new, flashy monikers for already technology advancements which are already available elsewhere…the Tokyo based electronics Goliath is guilty of all of that and more. Thanks to their size and corporate power, it sometimes feels like we’re being made to feel like fools if we don’t purchase their products (TVs included) while totally eschewing the purchase of any other brand.
The truth be told, that is simply the way of the modern world. Marketing rules the roost, and it’s importance has far surpassed the weight given to the efficacy and usefulness of the product itself. Basically, hype rules, not just when Sony is involved, but in every technology manufacturer product niche we know of.
The naked truth is that ALL companies believe that they MUST push their products with as much flashy force as possible to compete. Getting a shopper’s attention in a market flooded with large manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Panasonic, along with upstarts like TCL, Seiki and others, the competition for your dollar is fierce. Perhaps sadly, we expect this incredibly visible and “in your face” advertising, and the number show that we in many ways equate it with the quality of the item in question.
Apple is the master of this by almost any standard, and it receives every bit as much blow back (particularly from Android users) as Sony for their often excessively hyperbolic promoting of their products. But the truth, whether we like it or not, is that perhaps no other consumer electronics manufacturer in history has advanced technology quite like the ubiquitous Cupertino based company. Just ask the federal government. Basically, they are the most tangible proof that quality construction (and this is true in any retail product sector) still matters to shoppers, even if a particular product comes with the fatigue we associate with heavy marketing of those products.
Which is brings us back to Sony. If you remember the Walkman (just to name one “game-changing” device) then you know the power of the large technology makers to change our lives. Whether they “invented” said technology (at least according to some) is debatable. But that isn’t the issue. To bring the most famous portable compact disc player to customers like you and I required marketing. That effort sold the first Walkman players, which allowed them to sell more, which in turn allowed the company to enhance and improve the technology, and so on. The effects of this are still being felt in the industry, with companies scrambling to tweak and improve previous versions to make them more usable and desirable with each successive generation.
Of course, that brought in capital and the company used it to inundate us with advertising in every conceivable format. This fueled their desire to create more technologically advanced products, which in turn were marketed with equal fervor. The Playstation 3 video gaming console is another example. It went far beyond gaming, including things like apps for movie watching (we take full advantage of Netflix, just to use one obvious example) and a built in Blu-Ray player which played not only game discs, but movies in high definition glory. The PS3 did all of these things very well, and we still use many of it’s functions in our homes. And I still don’t own a standalone Blu-ray machine in mine.
And so what of the HDTVs that Sony touts as possessing features that go far beyond High Definition and in their own words “? We’ll discuss the specifics in part II.