Sony making the same mistakes again

There a 3 big problems with the Playstation 3 (ignoring smaller problems like the UI). The first is availability, with all sorts of stories of people getting shot with BBs or trying not to give birth or abusing the trust placed in them just to get a PS3. That can be fixed with time. The second is game selection, because Resistance: Fall of Man looks great, it doesn’t look great enough to justify the hassle of getting a PS3. That too can be fixed with time.

The third big problem with the PS3 is the price tag. Can that be fixed with time?

Some company named iSuppli thinks that the $600 60 GB PS3 costs Sony $840.35. It seems unlikely that Sony can lower the price any more, since they’ve already decided how much of a hit they can take on each PS3. The PS3 clocks in at $200 more than the high trim Xbox 360. Incidentally, analyst Michael Goodman estimates that “Blu-ray is adding $150 to $200 to the product.”

Ah, so there’s the price problem, Sony threw in an expensive Blu-Ray disc drive. It’s an attempt to make their horse, Blu-Ray, the next VHS and Microsoft’s horse, HD-DVD, the next Betamax (incidentally a Sony product). But because they’re so focused on the format battle, they might lose the whole war.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Sony’s corporate goals screwed its consumer electronics division. Up until the past 5 years, the first thing you thought of for portable audio was the Sony Walkman. What happened? Was Apple just that adept at making killer consumer electronics? Well, yeah, that’s part of it (see Zune). But Sony also refused to give consumers what they want – a hard drive MP3 player – because Sony Entertainment is dictating what Sony Electronics is allowed to produce. We’re seeing the downfall of the Walkman again, with the entertainment division dictating that Blu-Ray must be rammed down consumer’s throats and the Playstation team being hobbled by their business requirements.

The saddest part of it all is that the format war between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD is like a format war between horse carriage hitches in the 1930’s. The next big format isn’t either of those, it’s downloading! Hopefully either Sony will realize that and release a reasonably priced PS3.5 or exclusive titles like Resistance will get ported to a viable platform.

Why you weren’t protected from Sony

In an article for Wired News, Bruce Schneier asks:

What do you think of your antivirus company, the one that didn’t notice Sony’s rootkit as it infected half a million computers?

Mr. Schneier’s readers answered him:

Many readers pointed out to me that the DMCA is one of the reasons antivirus companies aren’t able to disable invasive copy-protection systems like Sony’s rootkit: it may very well be illegal for them to do so. (Adam Shostack made this point.)

Isn’t it great that we live in a country that not only has the DMCA, but is actively exporting it? Aren’t you glad companies like Sony have laws like the DMCA; laws that keep you from protecting yourself against them? The best part is that people are generally fine with it as long as it fights “piracy,” but DRM has nothing to do with piracy!

If you want to know how we got to the point where Sony is taking complete control of your computer, look at why bad laws like the DMCA’s anticircumvention section are around.

Update 2005-11-23: Curious how other parts of the DMCA are being used? Boing Boing summarizes a study from the Chilling Effects Project. Turns out a lot of DMCA requests are bullshit. I know mine was. I publicly announced that I would participate in Grey Tuesday, and then publicly backed down when someone pointed out my hypocrisy. I still got a DMCA takedown notice, despite not having infringed any copyright. It isn’t surprising that mine wasn’t an isolated incident, but it does piss me off.