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Old 12-11-2006, 02:44 PM   #1
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The depressing history of Sony's Connect Software - CNET - "An Unmitigated Disaster"

CNET ran a very good article on the development history of Sony's Connect software that was supposed to unify Sony's DRM content from digital music to electronic books. Its a good read and sobering for those of us hoping for software updates.

CNET: "How Sony failed to Connect, again"
http://news.com.com/2100-1027-6078659.html
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Old 12-11-2006, 03:03 PM   #2
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That one's come up before, but it's from last May, and its info seems to be a good deal older than that -- it totally predates any actual info on the Connect bookstore and doesn't really seem to apply to it. I think the bookstore is a new, 'from scratch' approach to the application, rather than something built on the music part.
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Old 12-11-2006, 03:16 PM   #3
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The article says that the Reader's software was developed from the same software company and has been affected by the personnel changes there.

Is there an article somewhere that updates the CNET history?

Thanks.
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Old 12-11-2006, 03:39 PM   #4
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Arrgh. I've been trying to find the discussion that went on at the time (no luck), I seem to remember that it had more info in it, and I just don't remember. It does seem from the 3rd page that the software is on the Reader rather than the bookstore, but it's kinda confusing:
Quote:
Some point to the successful prototype demonstration of the Reader running FSK-based software at the Consumer Electronics Show as proof that it has already come much farther than the Connect software ever did.
I don't think that CNET has revisited the topic since that article.
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Old 12-11-2006, 03:50 PM   #5
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Look in the "bin" subdirectory under the Sony Reader in "Program Files" on the c:\ drive and you will see a lot of files associated with fsk including an fsk.dll. Its there.
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Old 12-11-2006, 04:25 PM   #6
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Yes, Connect Reader is based on Fsk (basically a custom ECMAScript implementation with easy XML processing). Actually, the core API is the same on both platforms - if you compare FskCore.xsb on the PC and the device, they're byte-identical. The engine seems pretty portable, so I wouldn't be surprised if they have a working OS X version in their lab, it's just probably too buggy for an official release...
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Old 12-11-2006, 05:02 PM   #7
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I have run across some indications that they're probably working on an OSX version, and Vista for that matter.
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Old 12-13-2006, 10:40 AM   #8
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indications?
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Old 12-13-2006, 11:28 AM   #9
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You, know ... this and that. A two and a two that make a very convincing four.
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Old 01-08-2007, 10:35 PM   #10
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Connect Books vs Connect Music

According to Sony Corp. CEO Howard Stringer at CES today: "U.S. sales of the Sony Reader, an electronic book reader, is also doing better than the company expected, Stringer said. Sales of downloadable e-books are exceeding the sales of music on Sony's online Connect Store." (From AP)

How successful are Sony E-Books sales if the success is relative in comparison to the disaster that is Connect music? Are sales so mundane that CEO Stringer has to spin the figures against a known failure?

Why not just say we sold so many readers and so many books?

If Sony worried about the user experience and fixed its Connect software, maybe such comparisons would be meaningful. If the Reader software is in fact an improvement over the music software - as was mentioned above - then this comparison might be more a measure of disatisfaction with the music software vs the reader software rather than a measure of the Readers' success.

Why is all the obfuscation necessary? This can't be good news for Reader owners.
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Old 01-08-2007, 11:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fugubot
This can't be good news for Reader owners.
I'd say its good news, at least they're selling more ebooks than they sold songs.

I mean the ebook store could have set a new record in infamy by seller fewer ebooks than songs.

So far everyone I gave one to for Christmas is happy and busy buying romance novels, manga and pop culture.
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Old 01-08-2007, 11:48 PM   #12
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Scotty1024,

I agree that the hardware is enjoyable. I don't mean to criticize the Reader.

Sony's marketing strategy seems odd to me. Given the problems that the Connect Software has experienced over a number of years now -- why would Sony feel a need to compare Reader sales to its music sales? Its like saying, "If you think this is bad, wait till you see the mess we have over there!"

Why can't a CEO simply say that "Sales are stronger than we imagined. We sold ____ readers in only 4 weeks and our new store has sold _____ books. Its a new and exciting and growing market and we're enthusiastic about its potential."

By bringing up the much hyped music store (remember Sheryl Crow's endorsement), it seems as if Sony thinks the world saw Connect music as a success. It makes Sony's leadership seem out of touch with reality.
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Old 01-09-2007, 12:08 AM   #13
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I received the Reader as a Holiday gift and have thus far loved the device--but the Connect software is ridiculous. Even its search functions don't seem to work properly. When I compare the software that one of the largest and most respected electronics manufacturers provides with that of the much smaller (French?) company Mobipocket, I am taken aback by just how much enormously better the Mobipocket PC software is:

-Mobipocket software can convert PG text files, html files, & Word documents without any problem or use of third party software.
--It also has a section, within its own frontend of pre-converted free books presumably from Gutenberg.
-Mobipocket allows easy organization of books by author, publisher, date, genre--all user-editable fields.
--It also makes the glaringly obvious decision to have separate first and last name author fields.
-It supports all RSS feeds, and updates them whenever the device is updated.
-It's a much better reader on the PC itself with full screen support + it never requires the user to scroll within the page.

Did Sony really go through all those months of delays without even bothering to look at any of the other reader-pc software interfaces? I know that the Mobipocket program is not universally admired, but it sure beats the hell out of Connect...
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Old 01-09-2007, 12:31 AM   #14
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I don't know jack about the Sony music store, so whip out that grain of salt. My experience with the Connect software and store so far has been OK. Nothing mind-blowing, but not any worse than my experiences with some other new services.

* Anyone try Yahoo!Music when it was fresh and new?
* The new Napster was still crap a year after they went public.
* Numerous news/RSS online aggregators are still next to worthless, while a handful are now useable but was nowhere near as useful when they first started.
* Heck, look at some of our most beloved, new, free ebook sites that recently started popping up, correct me if I'm wrong, but there are still improvements going on in that front...

Criticism is good when it's constructive, and worthless when it is just complaining. I know the behemoth that Sony is kind of precludes the possibility of firing off an email or a forum post and actually getting your words directly in the ears of the person responsible for Connect, but as has been posted elsewhere, it does seem they are listening. They've messed up in the past, sometimes horribly so, but I think I'll give them some time to see if they shoot themselves in the foot here, or pull something off to get a nice spot in the ebook biz.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for getting a complete product/service when it goes public instead of a final release that is actually in beta stages; but that is becoming less common and more of an exception, particularly with large companies. Is it wrong, sure, could I just take my money elsewhere, sure again, can I deal with what is given and still give them money and enjoy what I've got, in my hands, right now? Already done.

edit: Ok, that last sentence looks horrible, but I'm too tired to redo it proper.

Last edited by L1Wulf; 01-09-2007 at 12:34 AM. Reason: comment on last sentence
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Old 01-09-2007, 08:59 AM   #15
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Moving on rather than fixing the old

Personally, I feel that keeping things in perspective is important. The Reader's software is not entirely new. It has a history. Anyone who bought a Reader is an early adapter and knows that the pains of being on the Bleeding Edge.

As has been noted by many reviewers, Sony has not shown a great commitment to fixing products once they've been released to the marketplace. I can't blame them because the older model of consumer electronics did not imagine continuous interaction with consumers. Once the warranty period had expired, the company was free to move on and the consumer was on his/her own to make due with the limitations of the product.

The software component of consumer electronics has blurred the line however. Motivated by repeat sales to the next upgrade, software companies have tried (admittedly with mixed results) to fix product bugs over time and consumers are used to bug fixes. Unresponsive software companies often lose market-share to more nimble competitors (Firefox vs IE, for example). Sony's dilemma is to decide which customer relation model do they wish to follow.

This forum is a great resource but it has also encouraged the belief that Sony will be responsive to user comments (the software wishlist, etc.). It may be true that the Reader division is different from other divisions at Sony and will commit itself to improving the experience of current Reader owners. However, without firmware and software updates and without even a statement of commitment, there's no compelling reason to believe that it will happen as the some in this forum hope. Sony DOES have a history of updating its Connect software but it has updated the software to meet its corporate needs not to fulfill the requests of its user base. I think this is where the precedent set by the music division is an important reminder not to get ahead of ourselves in hoping that the most requested features will make it into the hardware that we've already purchased.

Sony has traditionally moved on to the next version of a product rather than fixing old ones and the announcement yesterday of a wifi enabled Reader makes me worry that this cycle is happening again.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9305

Its clearly a good sign that the basic format is being supported by Sony for another generation. The bookstore software will probably improve. However, new hardware means that Sony needs to allocate its firmware writing resources to the next generation model. There's no guarantee that Sony wants to spend money improving the firmware of Reader 1.0. It will almost certainly not go down our wishlist to add a plethora of new features to machines we've already purchased. If the next generation of the Reader is substantially different, its new firmware may not be backward compatible with the current model.

This is not a problem for those who can afford to buy the next version of the Reader. Its only a problem for the current user who expect dramatic improvements to the Reader 1.0 functionality.

Don't forget that firmware updates can also be used to block out 3rd party software (as Sony has repeatedly demonstrated with the PSP) and we could actually lose the functionality of RSS2BOOK if Sony wants total control over Reader content.

I don't see the need to divide users into camps of "optimists" and critics. Criticism is not a test of allegiance and almost everyone here has already bought into Sony's hardware-software ecosystem - flaws and all.

Having some historic perspective on Sony's struggle to deal with DRM content is important and I feel that any new purchaser of the Readers should read the CNET articles. There are a lot of threads in this forum about "what Sony should do for us" and these articles are a good reminder that this is not historically how Sony works. "Wait and see" is perhaps more appropriate with Sony than "hope and wait."
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