In the category of consumer electronics, there remains the seemingly constant push to stay one bell and one whistle ahead of the competition. Whether it is a new laptop with more memory, a new TV with an enhanced refresh rate or a bluetooth headset that can all but vanish entirely into the ear canal, it is a market that concentrates much too often on technical specifications of the product and not on the emotional precepts of the consumer. It is this disconnect between a brand and simple table stakes that has led to the decline of the once goliath Sony.
It is with Sony in mind that I turn the focus to what could very well be the nail in the coffin for the upcoming (yes, upcoming) Playstation Phone. The phone is a collaboration between the Sony Ericsson line and a Sony PSPgo handheld gaming device.
Since 2008, Sony Ericsson has seen its market share decrease from 7.6%-3.1% and the Playstation PSP has seen unit sales decrease from 13.8-9.9 million in an otherwise expanding market. This begs the question, “How can two products, both with ineffective branding and declining sales, hope to combine forces to yield different results?”
Sony’s brand of “Make.Believe,” which is used across all of its product offerings (phones, televisions, cameras, etc.), speaks to Sony as a company not to who the consumer is. The aspect of imagination being the only limit to what can be created is a nice mantra for Sony engineers but it does little to identify with the consumer. Why would a consumer who believed that the products they purchased were the most imaginative settle for the imaginations of others?
Even worse it that Sony is not even following through its faulty brand. The key element of the Playstation phone versus any other phone is the integration of the PSP gaming system within the hardware. But is anyone still wondering what gaming will be like on a cell phone? The new phone will also include a new marketplace to purchase games. But is anyone still looking for a convenient store that can be accessed via their phone where they can download apps now that we all have been living with iTunes?
The whole is equal to the sum of its parts and, in the case of the playstation phone, the parts are poor branding and declining sales. I am not a mathematician, but I have only known two negatives to yield a positive in golf. Without a very close look at their brand, Sony’s Playstation Phone might just have to “make.believe” that it is an iPhone.