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KitGuru readers lose faith in Sony

There was a time when the Sony brand was trusted by consumers and experts alike.

Unfortunately, it seems that the company has engaged in a series of high-profile errors which have totally shaken confidence. KitGuru pulls out a clipboard and researches the market.

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Remember the days when Sony stood for pioneering music devices, like the Walkman, and the best in CRT TVs, with the Trinitron range?  Those days must now seem like a dim and distant memory for executives old enough to remember the glory days at all.

Sign of the times that the packaging says iPod twice as many times as it says Sony. Now that's just sad. Sony doesn't even have a product to be compatible with.

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So where did it all go wrong for Japan’s electronics darling?

The first whiff that something was going badly wrong with Sony’s brand image was the sneaky rootkit scandal. What started out as a massively aggressive attack on consumers, actually ended up with complete humiliation and a global recall.

Senior Sony VP Steve Heckler had previously gone on record saying that the company was ready to “…take whatever steps it needs to protect itself and its revenue streams”. What did he have in mind?

Heckler was not shy in stating that Sony’s men in suits would, “…develop technology that transcends the individual user, We will firewall Napster at source, we will block it at your cable company, we will block it at your phone company, we will block it at your ISP, we will firewall it at your PC”.

Block, smash, firewall, transcending the individual user. Now THAT’s what we call the language of love.

Soon after, Mike Magee’s Inquirer revealed that Sony had crumbled completely, thrown itself flat on the floor crying, issued a total recall and wished it had never engaged in all that “Blocking, smashing, firewalling and transcending of the individual user”.

So we all love Sony again, right?

Well, the problem with fixing a broken vase is that the cracks will always be there.

Howard Stringer is Sony’s CEO and his company’s most recent strategic error looks to have put at risk over half a billion dollars worth of revenue that Sony was counting on from its PlayStation network activities. Again, Sony seems to have moved very slowly on this issue (claiming ‘complex forensics’). From the time it was revealed that around 77 million poor, unsuspecting customers had been horribly exposed by the Japanese giant, to the time that Sony accepted responsibility and given an abject public apology – it seemed like ages.

This image of Sony executives has appeared on the interwibble today. Whether they are apologising for their company's incompetence or trying to follow Sony's share price is uncertain

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In the long-term, customers will vote with their feet. In the short-term, investors vote with their portfolios. Quick look over at Finance.Yahoo.Com shows what appears to be a recent dip in company value of over 12%. That’s pretty substantial.

The drop in investor confidence could have been bigger. But not by much.

So, back to the headline. What about KitGuru readers. We know from our own research that you are not only technology lovers, you are also strong influencers. If you trust/love/want a product – then that will have an effect on the market. Similarly, if you feel betrayed, then that is also likely to be transmitted to those around you. The results of KitGuru’s recent survey won’t make for pretty reading at the next Sony board meeting.

We will continue to monitor this poll, but Sony's position as 'least trusted' is unlikely to change

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KitGuru says: Back in the days when Sony was a leader, it was innovating with products like the Walkman and changing the way the world works. The sneaky installation of root kits, total failure to launch of Blu-Ray and now the exposure of personal and financial details for millions of loyal customers – it’s hard to see Sony’s brand recovering its former glory. Arguably the only shining light in its portfolio today, is the professional division.

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