As Sony boss Sir Howard Stringer gets ready to step up onto the world's podium and say how he's going to revitalise Sony, maker of the 'LimpMan' music player line and other falling-behind consumer devices, we hear another part of Sony is looking to revitalise Memory Stick.
Memory Stick is Sony's proprietary flash memory card format that Sony has tried to make a standard. It is currently heading towards the Betamax museum of failed formats. SanDisk and Sony have cross-licensing agreements and SanDisk manufactures Memory Stick devices.
The speculation is that we might see a smaller Memory Stick, a 'Memory Stock Nano' perhaps? Alternatively we might see a larger capacity and transfer-data-faster Memory Stick, a kind of Pro Plus format.
What we probably won't see is Sony ditching its Memory Stick format and mixing it with everyone else in the commodity flash memory market for mobile devices. That has not been Sony's style of doing business. You might think that the time to introduce or reintroduce a proprietary format in a particular marketing area is not when that market is heading full-speed towards commoditisation. Instead you do it when a market is developing and stake out a position at the high end of the market and avoid common or garden commoditisation. That's what Sony did with its original Walkman I think, what it tried to do with Betamax and is trying to do with AIT and Super AIT tape.
Tape is now heading towards commoditisation around LTO and AIT/S-AIT appears to be in the doldrums. That's probably a crude description of the Memory Stick position too.
It seems to me that one might suggest Sony is not great at storage, world-class and shatteringly great I mean, in the PlayStation and original Walkman sense. What it can do to breathe strength into its Memory Stick products is eagerly awaited. But I don't think it will be Sir Howard Stringer making the announcement.
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