In the minds of my father’s generation, the name “Sony” was synonymous with quality. And it’s true: there was a time when Sony ruled the roost. You had a Sony Walkman, or you had a knock-off. You had a Sony television … or you just had a t.v.
Those days are long gone. (Do you know even one person, for example, with a Sony MP3 player instead of an iPod?) Competitors like Apple, Samsung, and even (gasp!) Vizio are producing sleeker, more user-friendly technology at lower prices. Given these options, no one in my circle of friends even considers the Sony brand when shopping for new electronics.
In fact, the only people I know who are buying from Sony are men of a certain generation. Recalling those 1970’s marketing messages (“It’s not a television. It’s a Sony.”), they are still willing, despite the ready availability of other options, to pay a premium for Sony products.
Case in point: an older friend just dropped $2500 on a new Sony flat-screen television. It’s loaded with features, from something called DLNA (What *is* that? Would you want it on your hands? And if not, would you want it in your t.v.?) to the latest gimmick for pushing up television prices: 3-D technology.
The TV comes in a box that’s slathered with banners proclaiming its 3-D capabilities. The manual rhapsodizes about the TV’s stunning 3-D pictures. But … guess what? Sony packages this marvel of 3-D home entertainment without a single pair of the required-for-viewing 3-D glasses. (“3-D viewing requires 3-D glasses, sold separately.”)
The surprise here isn’t that watching 3-D t.v. requires glasses; we all knew that would be the case. The surprise is that, even after convincing a Sony customer to spend $2500 on a t.v. that promotes 3-D technology as a feature, Sony’s too cheap to toss in a single pair of the $50.00 glasses required to use that feature. It’s like buying a Cadillac for top dollar … and discovering, under the hood of your new CTS-V, a sticker that says, “Internal combustion engine required, sold separately.”
Note to Sony: at least one member of your customer base, having paid a premium price for your products, wasn’t much impressed when the $2500 package he purchased didn’t include the $50 part that would have made the whole thing work.
I don’t need 3-D glasses to see where that strategy will eventually go.