Goodbye, Sony Store


Sony is closing its retail stores in Canada,

Sad news, but not surprising. I could never figure out why Sony had retail stores in the first place, at least in Ontario. Their products are extensively available at retail, and if they’ve lost ground to Samsung and other manufacturers, it hasn’t been because of inadequate presence at retail. Sony lost ground because it was out-innovated.

The first time I saw the iPod, I knew there had been a changing of the guard. Innovative, clever features, beautiful design: I would have said “Sony” in a heartbeat. But it was Apple. From that point on, Sony’s sure touch for design and features evaporated. It has become a me-too company with undistinguished products and very little that’s exciting or new. They introduced a $1,200 (US) dedicated portable music player at CES this year. Gee, that’ll sell in quantity. Everybody wants a single-purpose portable device, right?

Sony’s stores were attractive, but with inventory drawn from TV, computers, cameras, ebooks, videogames, radios and everything in the Sony world, they were too much and too little all at the same time. In an era of big box electronic retailers and online superstores with next-day delivery, Sony was horribly out of step with present realities. And you could always find the same products for less money elsewhere – so you went into the Sony store to see the products, play with them and get your questions answered before buying them for much less on line. It’s called “showrooming” and it’s killing bookstores, too.

I’m not surprised in the least that they’re getting out of retail. Only Apple knows how to do this right.

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