Proprietary Technology May Lose
Consumers"> Other market watchers said that despite Sonys best intentions, the newest Memory Stick platform isnt likely to become widely used by other vendors. Sam Bhavnani, analyst with San Diego-based Current Analysis, said SanDisks involvement is a positive, but that other device makers are probably going to choose device storage standards that are less tied to their head-to-head rivals."SanDisk could help them take [Memory Stick Micro] more mainstream than its older storage platforms, but ultimately consumers will decide who wins this battle with what types of devices they choose to buy." Bhavnani agreed that Sony no longer holds the same elite position in the electronics market that it once did, and that the company could have a hard time convincing consumers to pay higher prices for devices, based on the money it has spent developing the storage system. "The days of people paying a huge premium for Sony are over," he said. However, Bhavnani pointed out that the companys newly appointed chief executive, Howard Stringer, may be able to push the firm into moving away from its more proprietary roots. By adopting more widely used industry standards for technologies such as storage, Bhavnani said, the company may be able to regain some of its momentum. He pointed to the inclusion of SD memory slots in the firms next-generation PlayStation console as proof that Sony may be learning the lesson already. Stephen Baker, an analyst with the NPD Group, New York, said Sonys desire to become a technology standards provider is based firmly in its hope to encourage consumers to buy its own hardware. Whether or not Memory Stick Micro catches on with other firms, he said, is purely a matter of volume. "You have to imagine that some of these memory standards will fade away, as manufacturers arent going to be willing to invest in them if there arent sufficient numbers of device sales to defend the time and money that goes into building them," Baker said. "The most popular devices will drive the memory market." Baker added, "The big knock on Sony has been that their technology is basically proprietary to their own products, and you can imagine that if they began to see lower volumes of device sales, that could be a big problem for Memory Stick." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.
"The macro issue here, is that, as with other technologies, Sony doesnt want to play the same game as everyone else, and in some cases, such as portable media players, its really hurt them," Bhavnani said.