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Dear Sony

Dear Sony:

Please accept my sympathies.  You’ve become the old guy wearing khakis at the rock concert.  It’s time to accept that you’re just not cool any more.

It’s time for us to go our separate ways.  Yes…I’m breaking up with you.

We used to be in love.  I eagerly bought everything you offered. TV, computer, even a bittersweet experimentation with your lovely minidisc.

Today’s article by Randall Stross in the New York Times really drove it home. It was comparing your stores to Apple’s.  (Yes, I know I used to drool in your lovely stores. But I would be lying if I wasn’t just a bit turned on by that hot little number down the street.)

To be honest, now I’m a bit embarrassed to tell my friends about our affair.

You’re just not remarkable any more, and you’ve let me down one too many times.

Sony, here’s what I’m trying to tell you:

Word of mouth is about love.  We talk about companies we love. Love take a lot of things: passion, respect, mutual pleasure.

Word of mouth (and love) also need excitement, it fades away. For 20 years, you were remarkable, Sony. You gave me a reason to talk, you turned me on, you never let me down.  Your stuff was better and cooler. I was proud to show you off.

But then you started to get creepy, releasing a series of increasingly weird and complex products that just weren’t worth the trouble.

You took advantage of my love, forcing me to try things that I just wasn’t comfortable with.  Instead of growing together, you took advantage of my trust to use me as some sort of beta tester for increasingly bizarre twists on normal products.

I was a big-spending loyal promoter. Until you took advantage of my trust, with an obscene jealousy that finally drove me away. Forcing me to use abusive proprietary platforms, locking me into things I didn’t want or need, and locking me out of things I paid a fair price for. 

Sony, what happened to you?  I’m sure not spreading word of mouth about your stuff any more.  Your products haven’t earned it, and your corporate behaviors have made me wary to spread word of mouth  People don’t recommend companies that may embarrass them in front of their friends.

As of this week, I have two iPods, a Casio camera, and a stack of Dell PCs.  I have a box of Sony camcorders, minidiscs players and laptops in the closet. 

My next TVs are probably coming from somewhere in China or Korea … and I’m guessing that they will do something remarkable, and I bet I’ll be telling all my friends about them.

Love,

Andy

P.S. In the same article, Willard Ander wisely asks:  “If Payless ShoeSource can reposition itself as a place that markets ‘cool,’ ” he asked, “then why can’t Sony?”

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