Can New Online Service Become Sony’s iTunes?

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Another day, another announcement about how Sony will “reinvent” itself as a lifestyle brand to build brand loyalty. Today? Online services. 

Of Sony’s plans to revitalize its brand by offering downloadable games, movies and other entertainment to Bravia TVs, Cyber-shot cameras and e-Readers, Executive VP Kazuo Hirai said, “That’s the kind of combination that I think is not seen anywhere else. That I think is where our core competence lies, and that’s a differentiator for Sony.”

Immediately on hearing this statement, everyone giggled and was heard to say, “So adorable.” [more]

Since Sony does boast 33 million users for its PlayStation game console, they’ll certainly be an important part of any such online service, especially if rumors of Firefox on PlayStation 3 are true. And, who knows: maybe the brand’s e-Reader “shortage” will create a solid user group there as well, especially if the e-Reader’s capabilities extend beyond books to include web surfing and gaming

Sony is a great brand, one of the world’s strongest. For years Sony has been trying to make the jump from consumer products brand to lifestyle one, with a constant refrain of “this time it’s different.” Each time, it’s been painful to watch.

But this sort of offering really could take the company from electronics supplier to lifestyle brand. Done right, this really could be Sony’s iTunes. Of course, not if the service fails to emphasize usability and, at least initially, universality. A Sony online service that’s only for Sony device users isn’t going to help Sony build a lifestyle brand. 

A “Sony iTunes” service available to even those with non-Sony devices could introduce all sorts of potential consumers to Sony’s offerings and Sony’s “new” brand. And then those who find such a service fulfilling and attractive could be more likely to give Sony products more consideration when the time comes for device upgrades. 

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