Will the fifth time be the charm? The sixth? Sony is readying an online video service rival to the Apple’s iTunes, seeing video — not music — as its best (only?) foot forward in playing a larger role in digital media, the Wall Street Journal reports, quoting unnamed sources.
The company that invented mobile music with the Walkman, but lost the market to Apple’s iPod, recently dumped its Connect music service, conceding further defeat to Apple. Part of the problem in competing in digital media has been the very reason why Sony appears well positioned: They own the hardware and the entertainment. Competing interests between its electronics division aiming to give consumers what they want and content divisions looking to prevent piracy have hurt one of the world’s largest electronics companies.
Sony CEO Howard Stringer thinks the time is right to flex the power of its PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and Bravia television line to take on Steve Jobs.
Eyeing how Apple came to dictate prices in a devastated music industry, Hollywood and TV content owners have been reluctant to repeat the mistake. Last week, NBC Universal said it had no intention to renew its contract to offer shows on iTunes by the end of the year.
Just one problem with Stringer’s plan: the PS3, PSP and Bravia are far from market dominants despite garnering critical acclaim. Sony also must do what it has failed in the past 10 years – get its fractious corporate fiefdoms to get along. Moreover, Microsoft has a head start with its Xbox Live service, which already lets consumers rent high and standard definition versions of new Hollywood releases.
Good luck, Sony.