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Old 09-14-2004, 10:31 AM   #1
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New Sony Multimedia Clie: PEG-VZ90

Sony Clie's are not dead yet. At least in Japan.

The Register brings the news: Sony unveils Wi-Fi multimedia Clie.
Quote:
Sony will next week ship its most impressive Clié PDA yet. The PEG-VZ90 multimedia handheld features not only a slick sliding control panel, but Wi-Fi wireless connectivity and a stunning 3.8in 480 x 320 OLED screen. The display provides a contrast ratio of 1000:1, a fast response time and a 180-degree horizontal viewing angle, Sony said[...]The handheld is based on Palm OS 5.2.1 and contains Sony's Clié Organiser PIM apps. The device is driven by Sony's own 123MHz ARM-compatible CPU, the Handheld Engine. Inside is 64MB of RAM, 40MB of which is available to the user, along with 128MB of Flash ROM, 95MB of which can be used for data storage.
The sad part: It is very unlikely that we'll see a non-Japanese version of this device (it is probably no news to you that Sony has abandoned the US and the European PDA markets).

Update 1: If you happen to understand Japanese, you can visit the PEG-VZ90 product page and read Sony's official press-release.
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Old 09-14-2004, 10:35 AM   #2
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It will cost aronud 94.290 Yen (~USD 860)!!
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Old 09-14-2004, 10:50 AM   #3
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Yeouch!!!

So much for picking one up in Japan in a few months.
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:11 AM   #4
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Sony also announced (coincidentally?) that they (along with some partners) will be acquiring MGM for about $2.9 Billion US, thereby doubling Sony's movie library and furthering their plans for content delivery. Sony will leverage content to drive hardware sales and vice versa, as well as leverage their percentage of content marketshare, now 40-50% of movies and music coming out of Hollywood, to try to set industry formats and standards like the Memory Stick, UMD, ATRAC, Blu-Ray DVD, etc.

Quote:
Idei's goal is to unite consumer-electronics and media businesses through products such as the PSP hand-held game machine and the Airboard portable television, which is designed for watching movies on the Internet.
It's now perfectly clear why Sony killed the Clie in the US, why the VZ90 is designed the way it is, and what Sony has in store for the PSP besides games.

IMO, that's the real "Big Story" here, and it's a harbinger of things to come from Sony. The implications for consumers remain to be seen.

Last edited by ballistic; 09-14-2004 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:17 AM   #5
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It's now perfectly clear why Sony killed the Clie in the US
Not to me: what do you mean?
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:29 AM   #6
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Content, Digital Rights Management and the Palm OS.

With the Palm OS, Sony couldn't control the way people use the Clies to play content (music, movies, etc). There are several programs on Palm OS (Kinoma, MMPlayer, Pocket Tunes, etc) that allow someone to play any content they choose (legally owned/"fair use" or illegally downloaded/pirated).

Sony, being a huge Consumer Electronics Company, as well as a Media Giant (movies, music, games) has always had internal conflict between those two divisions. Sony wants to control how you use your Sony hardware and what you can use it for. The Palm OS didn't offer them that total control, although Sony tried to control content on their Clies (ATRAC, Memory Stick with Magic Gate, crippling the CF slot so you couldn't use it to store movies and music files, etc).

IMO that's the real reason Sony killed the Clie line: content delivery and DRM. There are too many ways around it on Palm OS and Sony is looking at the PSP and other closed (proprietary) content delivery systems with very strict DRM.
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ignatz
Not to me: what do you mean?
To me, it looks like Sony is aimed squarely (for now) at gaming and media. They have gained control of enormous content. They love intrusive DRM and proprietary formats. Put that together with some nifty product designs like the new CLIE, and they now have the opportunity to force it on the public and make lots of $$ doing it.

But if you look at the specs, it's all about media delivery. Low speed processor. Better battery life. New screen technology. And they highlight the media player as what it's all about on the web page. (Babelfish translation from altavista has japanese -> english available)

Previous rumors indicated that Sony didn't quit the US Palm market so much because of a slumping market, but because they didn't like the direction of PalmSource for the OS. If true, it probably means they didn't like lack of support for the media and DRM things they want to do. Plus, they are going multimedia instead of PIM and handheld computer platform, like Palm is despite the emphasis on smart phones. (I hope they are anyway!)

For Sony, it's all about multimedia content and gaming, and controlling the content, the delivery, the usage and the platform. They want it all, and they seem to be doing a pretty good job of it so far.

Unfortunately, I don't think it's good news for us consumers...
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:31 AM   #8
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Great minds think alike . Great points Bob, and you laid it out very eloquently.
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:32 AM   #9
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Ooops, didn't see your last posting before mine. I could have just written "ditto!"

BTW, I don't see PalmOS for Sony long term. I think they are just using it for now as they get into the market and test the technology like new screens, etc.

Long term, they'll jump on any alternative they can find. Their only problem is that PalmOS is really good, so people like it!
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:34 AM   #10
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Gotcha. That makes perfect sense, given their bizarre tendency to propietize everything they touch. Who do they think is going to buy their new Walkman that plays only their file format? And I wound up steering clear of the TH55, even though it looks like a fabulous product, for fear of running up against their walls. I do think that there are plenty of consumers out there who don't realize their peril, but there are also a large number of us, who can see what they're trying to do...
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobR
Ooops, didn't see your last posting before mine. I could have just written "ditto!"
Ditto Ditto.
Quote:
BTW, I don't see PalmOS for Sony long term. I think they are just using it for now as they get into the market and test the technology like new screens, etc.

Long term, they'll jump on any alternative they can find. Their only problem is that PalmOS is really good, so people like it!
Did you notice that the VZ90 is mysteriously absent any Clie badging? I agree with you : They'll drop Palm OS soon, it's inevitable. They have Symbian OS on the Sony Ericsson smartphones.
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ignatz
Gotcha. That makes perfect sense, given their bizarre tendency to propietize everything they touch. Who do they think is going to buy their new Walkman that plays only their file format? And I wound up steering clear of the TH55, even though it looks like a fabulous product, for fear of running up against their walls. I do think that there are plenty of consumers out there who don't realize their peril, but there are also a large number of us, who can see what they're trying to do...
Why do you think I got rid of my NX70V right after Sony announced they were leaving the US PDA market and got my Zodiac? I won't be buying a PSP either, BTW.
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:53 AM   #13
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That Walkman thing makes one wonder about the whole future of DRM for music and ebooks... If you buy a book, it's yours and as long as you keep it on the shelf you can read it. But if you buy a DRM or proprietary format book or song, you can only use it as long as the reader and the platform and the format are supported. You may have to upgrade software or hardware just to read that silly book. Or you may lose the file (easier than losing a book I think).

So if the software isn't upgradable in the future, or you don't want to upgrade your hardware, then your book is a worthless bunch of encrypted bits.

I agree not many consumers have really caught on to the long run issues yet, but we're learning that if sellers keep changing the platform you have to keep buying the content. What a great way to pry the $$s out of your pocket!

I realize there's some need for DRM. But someone's gotta figure out a better way to protect consumer rights. How about copyrights only lasting for 5 years on audio, video, writing? Why do we need to protect rights longer than that anyway? Do you really think the movie studios will stop making movies, or music artists will stop performing if they only get 5yrs revenue out of their creations? Hardly! It will still be a great chance to make money and people like to do art anyway. But then the public benefit would be huge!

Okay, sorry, this is supposed to be about Sony's new product. It is, sort of...
Back on topic

For this to work for Sony and consumers, we had better find a better balance between user and provider for DRM. (How's that for a save?!)

And as far as buying Sony products, I used to be a mass consumer of Sony electronics. No more. Only the very best products will overcome my "no more Sony" sentiments.
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:56 AM   #14
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Do you remember the slogan "It's a Sony"?

In the past, it was synonymous with quality and innovation.

Nowadays the phraes seems to be more synonymous with "don't buy this product".
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Old 09-14-2004, 12:05 PM   #15
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I too used to be a big Sony fan. Now I'll steer clear. I'm wondering if part of it has to do with differing attitudes in Japan and the US/Europe. Are Japanese consumers more at ease with the restrictive nature of Sony's products? And then once established in Japan they just carry over to the rest of the world?
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