31 March 2009

Why I won't buy Sony

It seems people have short memories. I told my brother I wouldn't buy a PlayStation 3 or a Bravia TV like him and he was nonplussed, he didn't know why I wouldn't give the giant megacorporation more of my money (I have a PlayStation, a Mini-Disc player and various other bits from years gone by). In short, here are the reasons behind my decisions:

Rootkits and DRM
It wasn't enough that Sony were putting rootkits on music CDs in 2005. When confronted with the info by Mark Russinovitch, they issued an uninstaller to remove the rootkit (something very difficult for an end-user to do short of completely reinstalling the machine), but replaced it with a dial-home program! In the ensuing outcry they issued a complete uninstaller. Sony also started using a protection program on their DVDs that didn't agree with plenty of DVD players (including some of the company's own models). Finally, it was discovered that their MicroVault USB keys also had rootkits installed on them. (Ed's note: Admittedly this rootkit stuff won't bother my brother since he is a member of the church of Steve Jobs)

Aibo was a really cool idea. A robot dog that you could teach tricks? How cool is that? Unfortunately Sony forgot that some of the fun of discovery is exploration and clamped down on people experimenting with new and expensive acquisition. Fortunately, people wanting to mess with robotic lifeforms now have Pleo, a robotic dinosaur, which positively encourages experimentation with its USB port and SD card slot. (Ed's note: Sony's robotics division was closed in 2005, and it seems that Ugobe, maker's of Pleo, are running into difficulties too - seems the time isn't yet right for robotic pets. Sigh.)

In total over seven million Sony laptop batteries have had to be recalled over between 2006-2008, despite Sony apparently knowing of a problem in their batteries' construction since mid-2005.

Blu-Ray Disc
I'm not going to argue over the relative merits of HD-DVD and BD but it does feel like there was some trickery going on here to ensure that Sony actually won this format war after having lost twice before (with Betamax and Mini-Disc and you can possibly add a third in there in the shape of the insidious Memory Stick format). Certainly the fact that the PlayStation 3 has a BD player was a big contributory factor in the format winning. Since it's the only choice in high definition I am sure that I will end up getting a Blu-Ray player at some point, but it won't be made by Sony (okay, okay, the drive will, or it will be licensed by Sony, but I can't escape that can I?)

Corporation - An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility. (Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary)

All these opinions are my own and don't belong to anyone else. Any errors made in this post are my own responsibility and will be corrected. They are on my blog to make sure I don't forget why I dislike Sony and are not there for any other purpose.

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