Silos, Politics and Turf Wars, by Patrick Lencioni
Cut the Cutesy Headlines

Distribution: The Next Challenge for Sony’s E-Book Device

According to this article from earlier in the week, Sony is going to have a tough time getting their new e-book device broadly distributed. Although Borders is getting behind the reader, both Barnes & Noble and Amazon have declined to carry it. If I’m Sony, I’m more concerned about Amazon’s lack of interest than I am Barnes & Noble’s. But it’s still got to be alarming to be shut out of both the largest online and brick-and-mortar bookstores. Yikes.

Sony reports they’ll be selling the product at “30 Sony Style stores nationwide and on its website.” Unless this device really catches fire it’s hard to imagine it will be the turning point for the very tiny ($12 to $15 million sales in 2005, according to the article) e-book marketplace.

Given that it’s now officially baseball season, could this be the third strike for Sony, before they even get out of the gate?:

Strike One: Way too expensive ($299-$399)

Strike Two: Monochrome display and limited content

Strike Three: Limited distribution


Anders Tomilsson

Are you talking about third strike and being taken out of the league or devaluing themselves to become a better target for takeover. (see recent news of late)

In terms of Amazon and B&N passing on the opportunity, I'm quite happy this is the case. Sony deserves this after the crap they distributed to consumers (5? 6?) months ago. In the case of Border's, they're a bunch of weenies and are willing to do what they have to in order to make a buck. If they'll it here, they'll do it elsewhere. It'll catch up with them. Sony needs a good bitch-slap. You install a rootkit on my machines, you can be guaranteed others in the tech world will be aware of it. Right now, the Chinese are making great strides in perfecting the rootkit technology.

The DRM's purpose is obvious. I'm not advocating what's being done by those who doing it illegally. But there are some issues which these boneheads need to remember:

1) the way to justify music piracy isn't via the number of blank discs. If I go to Comp-USA and get 100 discs at a price of $3 on a rebate and purchase two music CDs, I'm making fifty illicit copies of those songs. I've got a stack of CD and DVD blanks sitting here (more DVDs than CDs by now), on top of my bookcase next to my desk here at home. They are used to create backup copies from MSDN and other software downloads. Now, there are two sets of music CDs I've made for my wife: one for her SUV and another for her office. The originals are here at home. In this regard, I have no ethical problems because all of those discs could be toted from any one of those locales to another for ownership use. The extra discs are saving her that effort. No one else is enjoying them and she doesn't share, trade, barter, sell, loan, etc. them with anyone else. If a vendor has a problem with this, then I'll give them the pleasure of sharing half of a Big Mac on the front dash of their vehicle and the other half on their desk for their enjoyment. But I'll choose the condition the Big Mac is in. They don't see format as an issue format1==format2. Use your imagination as to how many forms that Big Mac can be transformed into. I can name several as I write this. ;)

As for vendors embracing DRM, they need to understand technical people need good puzzles to keep their minds sharp. DRM softare & protocols fall into the category of puzzles. Have you ever heard this saying?

Never piss off a nerd. An angry nerd can make your life very interesting.

(a takeoff of a Chinese proverb: "May you live an interesting life.")

DRM protection may irk some people. These will be the ones who will make a lot of noise and be an early adapter for the solution and talk about it later as though they created it. Script kiddies. There will be a lot of other people who might make a little noise but will let their fingers do the talking and will have one or more things groups on the side working on a crack.

Vendors seem to forget: if you can see or hear it, you can crack it for personal use.



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