Several years ago when I led Young & Rubicam in Southern California I had the opportunity to work with Sony Electronics. During that time I developed tremendous respect for the brand's quality, innovation and design. But I also confronted first-hand the silos that separate the company's considerable entertainment content from its hardware.
Sony owns movie and music companies and also markets the hardware on which to enjoy movies and music, not to mention videogames. I can still recall the difficulty in getting Sony Music to come to the table with Sony Walkman (remember Walkman?). These silos where invisible to most until Apple launched iPod and iTunes, a perfect combination of hardware and content. Game. Set. Match.
That's why I was very excited to hear last week's announcement that Sony Pictures will offercustomers who own a web-enabled Sony Bravia TV the ability to stream Hancock, its summer blockbuster, before it is released on DVD. Content and hardware working together to create unique value. This was the simple vision of Sony's founder, Akio Morita, finally brought to life by Sir Howard Stringer, Sony's current CEO.
This test, if successful, has major implications for how movies will be distributed in the future and may do to video distribution what iTunes did to music distribution.
But I'm equally interested in the implications for the Sony brand. I think we're about to see the brand rediscover its mojo.
At one point, Sony was a shining beacon of quality and innovation with a slight air of exclusivity. Today, they are everything to everyone.
Will the behemoth Sony be able to connect with a millennial generation bent on having it their way?
If you think about Darwin's theory, "...not the strongest... nor the most intelligent that will survive...It's the one most adaptable to change..." Can they keep up in the new marketplace?