Sony’s Latest Secret Revealed: Focus on TV, Movie Downloads… Good Luck

Sony TVThe Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has an article out quoting the usual mix of analysts, speculators, and “people privy to Sony’s plans.” I must say that the article’s title of “Sony to Challenge Apple In TV, Movie Downloads” makes the news sound more exciting than it really is.

Perhaps I should give Sony a chance rather than point out the obvious that the company has a very long way to go. Meaning, it’s a bit of a late comer in an already crowded space (Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Netflix all compete here just to name the big boys). I suppose it’s true that first movers don’t always win, and there isn’t a clear leader yet. But good luck to Sony on this one…

My bet is still on Netflix, as it is the company with the best strategy focusing on the consumer. But who knows? There is plenty of healthy competition, which should make for some decent improvement in this sphere sooner rather later. In any event, here’s the latest on Sony’s plans:

“Earlier this year, Sony introduced a module for its U.S. television models that can download Internet content. It will roll out a similar device in Japan this fall that will let consumers download videos from a number of Internet services. Meanwhile, Sony’s PlayStation unit last month launched new features for the PS3 and PSP in Europe that let consumers use their game machines to record television shows onto their PS3s and transfer them onto their PSPs…

People familiar with the situation say Mr. Stringer has been laying the groundwork in recent months to shift the company’s focus to video downloading. For example, they say he decided to end Sony’s unsuccessful efforts to challenge Apple in the music-downloading business in order to focus on the new strategy. In May, Mr. Stringer quietly decided to shut down the unit that was charged with creating a portable music player and online music service. Sony said Thursday that the service would be phased out and the latest Walkmans would use Microsoft’s Windows Media software.”

Well, that’s the gist of it. I should mention that the article touches on what is likely to be the main internal obstacle for the electronics giant: “In the past, the company has struggled to get its various units to cooperate with each other. An area like video downloading would require extremely close teamwork among the electronics, movie and videogame units.”