Please Don't Let Sony Determine Our Wireless Home Networking Standards

8 Comments

The German magazine Die Welt has scored an exclusive interview with Howard Stringer, the CEO of Sony. Maybe you have PlayStation 3 sitting in your living room or recall that Sony won the high-definition DVD format war with its Blu-Ray technology? In this interview Stringer sets his sights higher, on the domination of home networking. He says,

I set the target, to be achieved by March 2011, of a product portfolio in which 90 percent of the devices will be capable of networking and connecting wirelessly. It’s a tall order. Our engineers have to work across all our divisions in order to develop standards. This includes the consumer electronics division as well as the film and music production units.

Looks like Sony hopes to follow in Apple’s footsteps with a proprietary standards-based home entertainment platform. Stringer also points out that Apple, with its interests in Pixar, are pursuing a hardware-plus-content strategy like Sony is, albeit on a smaller scale. However, for anyone who has had to deal with Sony’s cumbersome software, the idea of that company pursuing such a strategy is both laughable and scary. You laugh because getting stuck on Sony software (and its DRM) is so terrible, but at the same time it’s frightening because many consumers will be eager to embrace any end-to-end home networking solution. Plus, Sony does make great hardware.

Stringer also expresses his dissatisfaction with the joint venture his firm has with Ericsson. The mobile equipment company makes several platforms for use in Sony mobile devices, but Stringer is apparently unhappy with the cooperation between the two partners. He told the magazine, “It’s certainly been a difficult year, but, buying out a partner is never an easy thing.”

8 Comments

Alan Weinkrantz

Hmmm….great concept for a vision, but not a whole lot of reality to the realities of this reality.

You still need wires in order to not only transport video, but manage what will be ever complex home networks. That’s why a standard like G.hn which is supported by the International Telecommunication Union is so critical. G.hn will soon deliver a universal home networking standard that supports all three wire types: coax, phone lines and power lines.

Yes, wires still and will matter today and in the future.

Mari Silbey

@Stacey You’re absolutely right – It’s only video. I’d guess Stringer is being vague with good reason. Sony will try a lot of things out and see what mix of standards works. It’s a technology lifetime between now and 2011. Who knows which way the wind will be blowing by then.

Stacey Higginbotham

Mari, I don’t know, but I emailed Sony to get more info. Sony is involved in a lot of different standards groups including WirelessHD, a potential competitor to WHDI. Both are also only for video. What about networking audio products, still cameras and computers? Is Stringer talking about multiple standards or one or two Sony-created standards? It’s hard to say.

Mari Silbey

Don’t you think Stringer is referring to the WHDI venture? In which case we’re not just talking about Sony, but a lot interested parties working on a joint solution.

Yuvamani

“Apple pursues a similar strategy. That’s why Steve Jobs has forged links with Disney and Pixar.”

This is laughable. Steve Jobs has personal interest in Disney and Pixar. Apple does not. Apple as a company makes devices software and websites. Disney makes content. Jobs is on the board of both. Sure there is communication at the highest level. But that does not mean Apple and Disney are the same company. Sony and Sony pictures are, This hobbles sony badly.

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