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The Almighty Buck Announcements Media

Sony Quietly Opening Retail Stores 382

as400tek writes "According to CNN, Sony Electronics Inc. has been opening stores in selected cities all over the US. Denver and Las Vegas are the next two location, or location numbers 11 & 12. Should the Apple retail model be applied to Sony, and if so why didn't it work for Gateway? Should Dell be next to enter you local shopping mall? Should large retailers like Best Buy and others be afraid of this model? Does this mean better service for Sony's already nice line up of electronics?"
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Sony Quietly Opening Retail Stores

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  • Sony could do well (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erick99 ( 743982 ) <homerun@gmail.com> on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:02PM (#10593314)
    Their online stores have done very while. I am surprised that people shop online and pay retail prices when I am used to shopping online in order to get a discount. They have great brand recognition and people, by and large, believe Sony to be a high quality electronics provider. I think they have a good shot at being successful.
    • by temojen ( 678985 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:17PM (#10593488) Journal
      They'll be the most expensive place to buy Sony products, only carry home electronics (no computers or parts), and be staffed by people who know all the buzzwords but have little idea what they mean.
      • They'll be the most expensive place to buy Sony products, only carry home electronics (no computers or parts)

        Where do you live? I used to frequent the Sony Store at the Scarborough Town Centre (Toronto), and not only were there prices competitive with places like Future Shop, but they also had Viao laptops, Clies, and a selection of computer parts (CD/DVD drives, Viao acccessories, etc.).

        Yaz.

        • the sony shop in the trafford center, manchester, UK is selling 256MB of PC133 RAM for 169UKP. anywhere else is selling it for 25UKP. this is because the idiots who buy sony desktop PCs buy on image: and assume a Samsung ram chip with a sony logo on the box is the only thing compatible.
          actually, considering their approach to their consumer AV hardware, this is probably the safest approach to take.
          also, tried getting support on your Vaio recently?
          sony look nice, but unlike apple *absolutely suck ass* wh
      • by danzona ( 779560 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @08:37PM (#10594016)
        They'll be the most expensive place to buy Sony products, only carry home electronics (no computers or parts), and be staffed by people who know all the buzzwords but have little idea what they mean.

        Until Sony closed it, I used to go to the one in Chicago once a month so I'll address these points one at a time:

        1. Their prices were the same as those on Sony's website. Things could be found cheaper from other resellers. Note that the sales tax is 10% on Michigan Avenue, so that might make it more expensive than most places.

        2. They carried the full Sony line including computers (even Aibos). They sold accessories for the products, but it didn't appear that they had every part - for example, I doubt I could have purchased a replacement power supply for my Vaio.

        3. I think you are right about the staff, although I never expect the staff at a retail outlet to know much. They aren't getting paid enough to be domain experts.

        I don't think Sony expects people to go to these stores to ask questions about the products. I think Sony has the stores so people can see the products that they have been reading about up close and decide if it is for them.
      • They'll be the most expensive place to buy Sony products, only carry home electronics (no computers or parts), and be staffed by people who know all the buzzwords but have little idea what they mean.

        Yeah but now... "You have huge American penis. You buy."

      • And every product will be the latest most-advanced DRM implementation that came out the R&D labs.

        The consumer electronics companies are going to be hard pressed to deal the 'vintage is better' mentality should it ever hit them. This is where people actually pay a premium for older used electronic goods and buy the newest, latest, and greatest only as second choice if something new is not available.
        This seems absurd because it has never happened in consumer electronics before. But if the big com
    • If Sony has success with this it will be because they are trying to get new markets (just like they did with the playstation). They are trying to hook up women and electronics. From the article:

      Sony is moving into ritzy shopping malls based on a widely held belief that conventional electronics stores do a lousy job with women

      This sounds risky to me, but that is probably an under served market, and sexy Sony products probably have the best chance of success. They must try to not alienate men though. For

    • Old News (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *
      Their online stores have done very while. I am surprised that people shop online and pay retail prices when I am used to shopping online in order to get a discount. They have great brand recognition and people, by and large, believe Sony to be a high quality electronics provider. I think they have a good shot at being successful.

      They've had these stores for years, I first walked into on in Chicago back about 1992 and looked at most of what they had, because I was looking for a model of portable stereo onl

    • I shopped at a Sony store in Cambridge, England, nearly 15 years ago.

      They even had a section devoted to kids, with banner advertising above the kidified products proclaiming: "My First Sony."

      I didn't realize that there weren't Sony stores in the US until seeing this article...
    • We have a Sony store in a factory outlet mall, and it's been there for over five years now. Granted its not dealing with new merchendise, and usually sells refubrished equipment, but it's one of the busiest stores in the outlet complex. In fact, it's where I bought my TV from and I got a heck of a deal on it. Saved $200 on it.

      Most likely their going to expand these stores, sell new equipment in them, and see what happens.
    • I find this interesting because Sony recently closed its high-profile store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, just a block away from the Apple Store.
  • by jrl87 ( 669651 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:03PM (#10593331)
    I live in Texas, most of the malls in my area (DFW) have Dell Kiosk things in them that are actually quite nice where you can demo several products and make orders if you decide to purchase.
    • by skraps ( 650379 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:40PM (#10593657)
      I often shop for electronics online, but as part of the shopping process, I will go to a brick-and-mortar store to check it out in person. I still buy it online though.

      The brick-and-mortar chain stores have to be losing money because of people doing this. I'm sure they will try to close that loophole somehow - maybe private branding, or membership-based stores.

      As it becomes harder for the internet shopper to see products in person before ordering, the manufacturers will have to step in more and more, by opening their own retail outlets. Even if those retail outlets don't make a sale directly, the manufacturer still wins as long as you buy their product.

      I predict it will turn into manufacturer-supported expo "stores". The primary purpose being that you can come and check out the product, with no pressure to buy, or maybe even no option to buy. Somehow, the cost structure has to get re-aligned so that the manufacturer foots the bill for demo-ing the products in person.

      • I predict it will turn into manufacturer-supported expo "stores". The primary purpose being that you can come and check out the product, with no pressure to buy, or maybe even no option to buy.

        Didn't Gateway try this? They had stores where you could check out an computer, and order it, but couldn't walk away with it same-day. I seem to recall they had a bit of difficulty making this business model work. This was before they entered the electronics retail market in general, and were still computer-only

      • I drove to a mall with a Dell store. Unfortunately, Dell's description at the time gave me a false impression that I could truely purchase the computer there.

        I just wanted a simple special that was advertised on the front page. I thought, ok... Dell store... they probably have this.

        I was a bit disappointed that it was only a kiosk store. Great if you don't have a computer, but ultimately useless for anyone who knows what they are doing.
  • canada (Score:5, Informative)

    by Coneasfast ( 690509 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:05PM (#10593344)
    in canada, sony has had stores for long time. there is one here in vancouver in a mall in the suburbs, not news (at least not to us).
    • Re:canada (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jarvo ( 70205 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:11PM (#10593423)
      Yeah, it's the same in Australia.

      I wonder why Sony waited until now to open stores in the US...
    • There's also the one in Downtown Vancouver (Grandville) and there is/was one on Broadway (secondary downtown for Vancouver) and I think there may be at least one more.

      I actually interviewed for the Sony Stores' IT group in Edmonton back in the '80s.

      In any case, I second the 'not big news' for Canadians. I didn't think twice about seeing a Sony Store in San Fran.

    • Re:canada (Score:5, Informative)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:18PM (#10593499) Homepage
      in canada, sony has had stores for long time.


      You beat me to the punch. Sony stores are in at least one major mall in most sizeable Canadian cities. Halifax has at least two, and Ottawa has two that I can think of possibly more.

      I had always assumed that Sony was doing that all over the place.

      Go figure.

      • Re:canada (Score:5, Informative)

        by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:54PM (#10593763) Homepage Journal

        ...and Toronto has as many stores as the entire US when you factor in the two new stores this article mentions:

        • Bramalea City Centre
        • Toronto Eaton Centre
        • Erin Mills Town Centre
        • Fairview Mall
        • Hillcrest Mall
        • Markville Shopping Centre
        • Pickering Town Centre
        • Scarborough Town Centre
        • Sherway Gardens
        • Square One
        • Upper Canada Mall
        • Yorkdale Shopping Centre

        Ontario has, according to Sony Canada's website, 29 Sony Stores in total.

        And /. is getting excited because Sony is expanding in the US from 10 to 12 stores??? ;).

        (Admittedly, I'll be excited when Canada has one Apple Store).

        Yaz.

      • As well there is a Sony store in Victoria B.C., and it has been there for a number of years now. Infact in my travels I have seen a few sony stores. This is news?
    • Yeah, I can back that up, Sony stores have always been around in Edmonton, Alberta. 5 people I knew from high school worked at various locations. Prices usually higher than anywhere else, but they've got cool stuff. This has been like, forever, so I don't know why this would be news. Unless it's a different kind of store somehow? I don't see how really.
    • There is one in the eaton centre. Why is this news? Its always more expensive there, and its not like real AV guys work there (the trendy haircuts are a dead give-away.)

      Mind you, I like to go window shopping there to see what Sony is trotting out, and then go somewhere else to actually buy.
    • "in canada, sony has had stores for long time. there is one here in vancouver in a mall in the suburbs, not news (at least not to us)"

      Yes, and:
      "should Dell be next to enter you local shopping mall?"

      There is already Dell Stores in Canada too. There is a least one in Montreal.
  • Metreon (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:05PM (#10593345)
    The Sony Style store in San Francisco is hideous. If the new stores are patterned after it, they will flop. The store is full of maladjusted plasma and lcd televisions, clock radios that don't keep time, minidisc players nobody wants, MP3 players that don't play MP3s, and, before they abandoned the business, Palm handhelds in various states of disintegration.

    Oh, and no customers.

    • Don't forget the incredibly narrow selection of DVDs at greater-than-MSRP prices!

      It's amazing how it contrasts with the Playstation store next door to it which actually does a pretty good job.
    • When I was there, the only thing interesting about the place was the architechture and the movie theather. As for the store items, almost everything was borked, and they are under staffed.
    • There's a new one in the Stanford Shopping Mall in Palo Alto, which is a VAST difference from the Metreon store. It feels like it has a lot more focus with respect to the various product lines. When you walk in from the mall side, the left wall goes from portable audio to laptops to playstation. The center kiosks deal with camcorders and media and computer accessories, and the right side has desktops and entrances to two side rooms for home audio/video equipement, which feature major products, but not every
    • Re:Metreon (Score:5, Informative)

      by LoadStar ( 532607 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @08:03PM (#10593822)

      The same applies to the Sony Gallery in Chicago on the Magnificent Mile... horrible store.

      First, you have to pass through one of the more foreboding entryways, and pass by the pissed off looking security guard staring you down like you're about to take everything in the store. Once past that, you're hit by the horrible lighting and the bad architecture, having to walk up two flights of stairs to get to the second level... to find about 3 products up there, including their high end plasma.

      Product selection throughout the whole store is abysmal... high end stuff at 3x what you can buy it for at ANY electronics store, and some of the worst of the personal electronics line. All of it looks broken or not correctly set up. The store help is less than helpful... they're all off in a corner acting like the Gap Girls on SNL.

      Walk down the street to the Apple Store and see what a REAL manufacturer retail outlet should look and act like.

  • by trjh ( 34164 )
    Clothing brands have own-label stores in outlet malls. There's been at least one Sony shop in Dublin, Ireland for probably about five years. This doesn't seem like news to me.
    • by nuclear305 ( 674185 ) * on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:10PM (#10593421)
      "There's been at least one Sony shop in Dublin, Ireland for probably about five years. This doesn't seem like news to me."

      Yes, but don't forget the US is the center of the Universe...it's not actually news until it happens here :(

      Sad, but true.
    • They've been all over mainland UK for the last decade or so too. I moved away years ago but 'm sure there's one still in Gloucester (one of the only shops there that isn't boarded up!).

      Slashdot ahead of the curve, as always.

  • In the UK (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nighttime ( 231023 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:05PM (#10593350) Homepage Journal
    We have Sony Centres. As the name implies, they only stock Sony products. As far as I'm aware they are franchises and not directly operated by Sony. However, whenever a particular Sony line is in short supply, the Sony Centres never seem to suffer.
  • Dell already has mini-stores (the one in the little islands) in many of the malls around the US.
  • by scowling ( 215030 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:06PM (#10593365) Homepage
    We've had The Sony Store in Canada for more than a decade. In my town, there are at least three, with two of them on the same street.

    They're all fairly small stores, the "no sports on TV" rule applies, the prices are competitive with the big boxes -- and often better once you count the gift cards they usually give you with any reasonably-sized purchase.
  • old news (Score:2, Informative)

    by xilmaril ( 573709 )
    Up here in canada (a really small city named nanaimo, for the stalkers), there's been a Sony store for years. it's crappy/overpriced, so I'd never shop there, but it seems to be doing all right.
  • by erick99 ( 743982 ) <homerun@gmail.com> on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:08PM (#10593380)
    Gateway didn't succeed because you went to their store to configure and order a machine. You then waited several weeks or longer for it to arrive. When they had these in my area they did zilch. People could go to any number of stores and walk out with a computer and when people are ready to buy, most didn't want to drive to a store just to place an order. I think that towards the end they started keeping a few preconfigured machines in stock but not many. They also had an awful compensation plan for their sales people.
    • among the several problems Gateway had with it's stores, it had the problem that it's not anywhere near a luxury or specialty brand. What differentiates Gateway from Dell? Nothing. Apple stores work for a reason- it's a luxury item that you might have to experience in person to appreciate. Think high-end clothing boutique vs. online GAP, if that kind of comparison helps you.

      The only reason I think this _might_ work for Sony is that they have actually become a bit of a luxury brand; I mean, they sure as hell

    • I believe the reason they didn't have in-store inventory is that if a company has a retail presence in a given state, it has to pay sales tax on everything it ships to that state, including the phone/online orders. Since the Gateway stores only took orders, the deals went down as Iowa sales. And Iowa didn't tax them because they were bringing lots of money into that state.

      There was another company whose name escapes me now, because it's long dead...they had a prosperous direct-order business and then kill

    • Gateway didn't succeed because you went to their store to configure and order a machine. You then waited several weeks or longer for it to arrive. When they had these in my area they did zilch. People could go to any number of stores and walk out with a computer and when people are ready to buy, most didn't want to drive to a store just to place an order. I think that towards the end they started keeping a few preconfigured machines in stock but not many. They also had an awful compensation plan for their s
  • Too Expensive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tinrobot ( 314936 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:08PM (#10593381)
    The times I've been inside a Sony store, it seems like everything is priced at retail.

    I can get Sony stuff cheaper at the discount stores.
    • "The times I've been inside a Sony store, it seems like everything is priced at retail."

      This is deliberate. Remember, most of their sales are going to be through third parties. If they undercut their resellers, they may lose the reseller. Think of the store as offering you a chance to demo their products while hanging out at the mall. They will sell you the product if you really want it, but they are just as happy to have you buy it elsewhere.
  • We've had "Sony House" stores for at least 8 years around here.
  • IIRC the Apple stores came out after Gateway's.
    Also the gateway stores sucked major ass.
    Apple stores are awesome.

    I'm sure Sony's stores will be pretty good considering they're the only PC maker that can compete with Apple in terms of style.
  • by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:08PM (#10593393) Homepage Journal
    And that's a large part of it's "buy me" factor. Walking into a Sony store is much more draw dropping than your standard consumer electronics store and that experience probably leads to real money for them.
  • by epicstruggle ( 311178 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:08PM (#10593395)
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?s=07 08190e5433b4685281bee4883de114&postid=4460781&high light=qualia#post4460781

    It looks like sony will initially only sell their new 70" 1080p rear projection tv through their qualia (sony's high brand division) stores.

    epic
  • Sony has had a store on Michigan Ave. in Chicago for over 10 years now. This is not new for them.
  • by gcaseye6677 ( 694805 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:10PM (#10593420)
    And it won't work for Sony. Both companies compete in the super-commoditized consumer electronics market. Neither of them have any real competitive advantage, other than Sony's fading brand name. Apple never tried to be the lowest cost provider; they have products that competitors either don't have or are not the same. The store model works for Apple because they compete on their own merits and people will go out of their way to buy Apple products. Granted, they are more expensive and often very proprietary, but they have a significant fan base. Sony and Gateway do not and will not have this advantage, therefore the only thing they will have to compete on will be features and price, just like every other electronics company. They will have a hard time keeping up with the massive flood of cheap consumer goods sold at Best Buy that are brought in by the boatload from Thailand and they will suffer miserably.
    • I visit an Apple store and get generally excellent service, with little to no hard sell. They also offer free help with their products, which is an enormous advantage over Gateway and others. This move gives the chain amazing customer loyalty; I'll go out of my way to buy from them because I know I'll get quality assistance if I have trouble.

      I visited a Gateway store a couple of times, and it's always been "push-push-push" hard sell. Very unpleasant experience. Better than the CompUSA "no sell" experie
  • by SYFer ( 617415 ) <syfer AT syfer DOT net> on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:12PM (#10593435) Homepage
    It didn't work for Gateway because Gateway was more like a "CompUSA" (a store I loathe) and Apple is more like a high-end boutique. I realize that both models have their place and can be effective, but Gateway's essentially selling commodity goods while Apple sells a whole "lifestyle." Visiting an Apple store is an experience in itself and has drawing power. Nike stores are similar in this way (at least the major one here in San Francisco).

    We also have a major Sony presence here The Metreon [metreon.com] and its own Sony Styles [metreon.com] store (although as a poster above points out [slashdot.org], it's not exactly perfect). and I think Sony will do it a lot more like Apple based on what I have seen (high end fixtures and architecture, high-drama).

    This is a smart move for a brand like Sony--they need to recapture the caché they once had more of.

  • by grahamsz ( 150076 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:13PM (#10593443) Homepage Journal
    Nobody buys a gateway because they really want a gateway.

    But some people actively seek out sony products (i cant imagine why, but my brother has spent THOUSANDS on them, and lots more replacing them when they break). The same is true of apple. They are as close to "designer" brands as we have in electronics.

    People do buy luxury watches, clothes, food items in store when they could get them cheaper online - it's more about the experience than the price.
  • by doowy ( 241688 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:13PM (#10593448) Homepage
    We've had "Sony Stores" for years and years around my parts (Alberta & Saskatchewan).

    They read over the sign, "The Sony Store", they are very swanky and very expensive. Usually in malls, but my home-town did have a stand-alone one about 5-10 years ago (I belive it closed eventually).

    Things are usually priced above MSRP in them for some reason, perhaps to appease retailers who carry Sony products.

    I think 2 malls have Sony sotres where I live. I've been in them, but never purchased anything at either as it's just so much cheaper to go somewhere else (I also don't like salesmen in suits with slicked hair trying to fast-talk me when I'm Sunday shopping - get enough of that during the work week thankyouverymuch).

    This site [www.sony.ca] says they have 70 stores in Canada.

  • Breakout potential? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeepFried ( 644194 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:13PM (#10593451) Homepage
    I have visited the store a few times in the South Coast Plaza(CA.). In my opinion these stores really lack the "added value" that a branded Sony store should give. The Sony products, while very cool, don't lend themselves to the integration and "wow factor" that you get being in an Apple store and seeing cool features implemented. Also, the staff there is your basic run of the mill Circut City type employee (not particularly energized or informed).
    There is not much difference in the presentation at the store vs. a nice consumer electronics shop and I don't feel like I am having a unique "Sony" experience by being in the Sony store because the products are not being presented in a new way.

    While apple has a real motivation to open these botuiques (informed sales people and proper product presentation) I dont really see the long term breakout potential for Sony. They already have the benefit of ubiquity.

    Having said that, its a great store to kill time in while your wife is shopping!
  • already there... (Score:2, Interesting)

    Dell is already in the shopping malls. From ifoAppleStore [ifoapplestore.com]:
    Dell Computer doesn't depend only upon its telephone and on-line sales: they have 81 kiosks within the hallways of shopping centers in 11 states. They're now running a billboard promotion with the tag line, "We're In The Mall."
  • All Thumbs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) * on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:14PM (#10593464)
    Having been to more than one Sony Style store I can say I'm pretty disappointed with them. Sony wants to have their own stores where it's wall to wall Sony products but doesn't want to make the stores somewhere you want to go to. There's very little difference between a Sony Style store and a Best Buy whereas there is a world of difference between an Apple section of a CompUSA and an Apple Store. If Sony could make some stores a little more enticing, similar to the Sony section of the Metreon, I think their stores would be far more attractive.
  • by fred fleenblat ( 463628 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:18PM (#10593498) Homepage
    There's one at South Coast Plaza (costa mesa, CA) and it's kind of cool to wander around and see all the gadgets. Once.

    Since they only sell the one brand, there aren't a lot of new products to draw people in. Plus it's retail prices for everything so you'd never buy there, just look and go home and order online.

    Comparing it to apple stores...
    * apple has a genius bar staffed with people who can often fix your problem right there. sony had some sales vultures trying to sell me a plasma.
    * apple has 3rd party software available for purchase
    * apple stores (some of them) have a closeout/discount bin for cheapskate shoppers to check out
    * apple's products are just better designed than sony
    * everything in the store is compatible with everything else
    * grassy knowl and start button on every monitor makes the sony store look a lot like best buy or compusa
    • Sony products are of a very high quality, so don't taint that in your post. I can come up with many instances where Apple has released poor-quality products, the least of which was the iPod battery fiasco. Both companies put out good products. I do agree with your other points, though.

  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @07:19PM (#10593506)
    Should large retailers like Best Buy and others be afraid of this model?

    It's about market presence and Sony ego. They no longer dominate by superior engineering so they will try to dominate by glitter and youth/yuppie appeal.

    At least that's this old geek's opinion. And I've been watching Sony for 30 years.
  • There's been a Sony store in my local town for years, it seems to do ok, sony sell premium equipment at premium markups, so they don't need a vast number of sales and it's only a small outlet so probably not to costly to run either.
  • I have been to several Sony Stores in Canada, recently Halifax and Belleville. I think of them as boutique style, not directly competing so much with big box shops like FutureShop (Canadian consin of US BestBuy), but also with the audiophile stores that have been traditional a good place to get advice worth listening to.

    The stores are modest size, not too overwhelming like large big box stores in large urban areas, well dressed sales staff (I think a tie is required for male staff), and not as crowded bot
  • Truly, why would anyone go into a store where only one manufacturer's stuff is stocked, unless you have already decided to buy one of that manufacturer's products? Even then, as pointed out, it's likely to be the most expensive place to buy.

    Personally, I have a like/hate relationship with Frys. I hate going in there, but I drive past one of their stores every day, and they are likely to have what I want. However, I find that buying OEM packaged products at a local store cheaper and a more pleasant experien
  • The Gateway stores failed where Apple stores succeed because, well, the Gateway stores sold Gateways instead of Apples.
  • it would have to improve service over megas like Best Buy, in turn one would hope that this would spur megas like BB to offer better service (and not just stick you with the, "What you need is the extended warrentee!).

    CB)*($##
  • Sony service can be horrible if you're not in a big city. I just had a big runaround myself. It could hardly get worse, I'm sure Sony had to act.

    I bought a 32 inch Sony Trinitron XBR^2 set a few years back, their top quality product, made in Japan with Sony's highest labor costs (they were shifting production to Mexico and across Asia), that set was widely considered the best TV ever made, and I expected it to last until HDTV became affordable (which should be a few years yet). But the power supply blew, a
  • ...At least 10 years. It's on Michigan Avenue 'roundabout Ohio or Ontario Street.

    I used to go there in HS to gaze on all the pretty electronics that I could not afford. It was really more of a showcase than anything else. I don't think I once saw anyone buy anything there.

  • Sony has had a couple retail stores in New Zealand for more than a year now; http://www.sonystyle.co.nz/
  • We had one in Minnetonka, MN, and it folded several years ago. Who wants to pay list price?
  • Australia has had Sony Central store for quite a while now.

    http://www.sonycentral.com.au/ [sonycentral.com.au]
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@mac.cOPENBSDom minus bsd> on Thursday October 21, 2004 @08:17PM (#10593918) Journal
    At a Gateway store, you couldn't just buy a machine and take it home. Add to that, the fact that they just overbuilt like hell, and it's not too hard to see that they were doomed to failure.

    -jcr
  • Sony Sucks (Score:3, Informative)

    by autarkeia ( 152712 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @09:20PM (#10594244) Homepage

    And I don't mean this to be a troll. Their computers suck, their web site is atrocious, they're absurdly overpriced, and they seem to coast by on their brand alone.

    Every time I sit down to repair a VAIO it's a harrowing experience-- you have to have their specific installation CD's to really make it go anywhere near smoothly. While a normal XP installation will technically work, getting it correct is nigh on impossible. They do weird things like partition the hard drives into multiple, inexplicable partitions.

    Then there's the website. It's awful. It's impossible to find the support section. The Knowledge Base is more like a Lack of Knowledge Base. The driver download process is cumbersome and it has a propensity for repeatedly kicking you into the Sony Online Store.

    Then there's their hideous propensity to stick to random, proprietary "standards" of their own creation. They stick useless things (like the ThumbWheelXPPro2000) on every single device. They've been pushing Memory Stick for years and haven't really gotten anywhere with it. This is to say nothing of their insistence on using ATRAC as their audio format on all of their digital audio players (which they apparently have finally rescinded), or their stupid MiniDiscs, which somehow still survive in spite of their relative uselessness when compared to other solutions on the market.

    They do have nice industrial design-- sometimes-- and a remarkable capability for shrinking things. But by and large their products are proprietary and waaaaaay overpriced, a combination that damns them in my book.

  • Afraid? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @10:40PM (#10594647)
    Should large retailers like Best Buy and others be afraid of this model?


    Simple answer: No.

    The major disadvantage of any "Sony" or "Panasonic" or "Tommy Hilfiger" branded store is that you're limited to just that store's brands. That automatically cuts down a lot on selection, and frankly, I could care less about shopping at a store that carried only Brand Z. Now, with Apple, it doesn't matter, because Apple lives in this isolated (shiny, glossy) Ivory (G5) Tower where by design, everything is Apple! Connect your Apple iPod to your iMac and listen to iTunes while chatting on iChat with your iSight etc. etc. etc. etc. This doesn't work as well for Sony and much less for brands that are not brands at all (frankly, I'm surprised Gateway is still even in business).

    These brand stores have been around for a long time, just not for PCs. If anything, they work as sort of a Branding Litmus test. Note here: we're not talking about the brand, or the product, or the features, or the service, but The Brand(TM) in the classic business sense, that is, what does "Ford" or "Nike" or "Post Cereal" mean to somebody. If your Brand(TM) is exciting, then those stores will help bolster it, especially if your store is put in high profile, mass-market (but gaudily touristy) locales. Think of all the stores in Times Square. Suddenly, Toys 'R' Us, Sanrio, Cold Stone, etc. are all a bit more high-profile because now Grandma goes back to Scotts Bluff, Nebraska and tells the grandkids of this place she had ice cream in New York City and wow! was it neat etc. etc. And the truth is, many of these stores willingly refuse to profit on these locations, or, knowing that profitability is not likely, charge a huge amount on their goods to at least cut down on losses. So now the Hitachi store in New York City lost $150,000 last year but, hey, that's not bad considering it's a store IN NEW YORK CITY! and that's pretty exciting. Apple is doing something very similar. It started out in major markets, then hit secondary well-off markets (ritzy suburbs in Baltimore, Jersey, etc.). Now they're making their way into the local mall. Fashionable Brands like Sony, Apple, Alienware, Bose, Svarowski, etc. can do well in these. (Note, apparently in my example fashionable means "Overpriced"). Unfashionable brands like Gateway, Aiwa, Timex may not do as well.

    So, no, I would not worry if I was Best Buy. If anything, Best Buy will now be helped by Sony stores, as people go into the Sony store, see the MSRP $4999 Wega XBR HDVDDHDHD-SACD Orgasmaplasmatron, are astounded, then are even more astounded when they see it at Best Buy for $3449 (plus you get a Day After Tomorrow DVD) and finally decide to go with Sony over JVC in their $400 TV purchase just because Sony opened up a store between The Gap and Starbucks at the mall.
  • Interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ChrisJones ( 23624 ) <cmsj-slashdot&tenshu,net> on Thursday October 21, 2004 @10:56PM (#10594736) Homepage Journal
    Sony have an advantage over Apple in that they can sell you a complete set of electronics (mumble digital lifestyle mumble buzzwordnonsense) that's all styled and behaves consistently. I've also noticed that Sony TV/VCR/DVD machines transparently integrate quite well already; As they and the other asian manufacturers put smart networking in these things Sony ought to be doing some pretty special things in these stores in years to come.
    They may well not, of course, but I like Sony, so I'm rooting for them to do it ;)
  • by Lazy Jones ( 8403 ) on Thursday October 21, 2004 @11:40PM (#10594984) Homepage Journal
    Here are some (large) pictures from Austria's first "Sony Center" [motor-freizeit-trends.at] in Innsbruck.
  • Got em in Canada (Score:3, Interesting)

    by billcopc ( 196330 ) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday October 21, 2004 @11:47PM (#10595031) Homepage
    We've had Sony Stores in Canada for a long time. I remember purchasing my first good discman there over 7 years ago as a teenager. They tend to be pricier than Walmart/FutureShop/BestBuy because Sony charges the strict MSRP so as to not compete with their web store. They also sell extended warranties but I have had a very good experience with them. They farm out the repair jobs to a local shop but they don't give you a hard time at all.

    The one thing that sucks just like every other store, is that the clerks tend to not know what they're doing. You'd think in a Sony store the guy would know everything about Sony's products but really he's no better than the kid working at BestBuy for 7.50/hr. Last time I went there, the guy couldn't tell me the difference between the 100$ cd player and the 500$ cd player. Sorry fella, but I want to know about read errors, skew/jitter, seek time, digital outputs.. I mean the guy does nothing else all day might as well learn about the stuff he sells. But it's no worse than what you'll see in any megastore or even radio shack.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!

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