“Pride, politics, and an overabundance of technology can blind you to the simple truth of what consumers want.” Thus reads the obituary — er, article about Sony’s Ken Kutaragi in Business 2.0. Kutaragi, the onetime genius behind Sony’s videogame consoles, will step down as head of the company’s games division, no doubt to be shuttled off to a darkened corner office somewhere.
Stepping down? “Carried out on his shield” is more like it. PlayStation 3 has been bruised, bloodied and bested by little Nintendo and its bestselling Wii. Sure, Sony’s technology was superior. But it was slow and expensive and not particularly good at doing its main job: games.
“For Nintendo, the number 3 company in the videogames business, it’s a David-vs.-Goliath turnaround. For Kutaragi’s team, who ruled the roost of this industry for 12 years, it’s a shameful final defeat.”
Sony’s biggest gaffe? Ignoring what its customers really wanted — to play games. Instead, as writer Chris Taylor put it,
“Kutaragi was too busy thinking about how to push the company’s other technologies. The PS3 was to create a vast installed base for Blu-Ray DVD… but gamers complained that the speed of the Blu-Ray drive was too slow when doing what drives in consoles are supposed to do: load games.”
Lesson: Ignore customers at your peril.