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Chris Deering looks back at Sony

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Deering stresses that he's giving "no Sony views but personally ideas moving sideways out-of-the-box."(sic)

"As Sony's portfolio of businesses diversifies, then Sony might move toward services in order to be more efficient in terms of capital employed," he began. "They have their ups and downs, but..."

Deering clearly thinks Sir Howard Stringer, the recently appointed new honcho at Sony worldwide - the first non-Japanese leader Sony has ever had - is going to be a big success. "He's bringing in new ideas and new engineers are coming along.

"Of course the major trend-line seems to be moving from devices to services, particularly as chips become cheaper and more available. Bandwidth is increasing in both wireless and fixed-line so the pipelines are growing fast. I don't think I invented these truths and anybody can see that anything that can go wireless, will."

Sony has over the last 20 years moved aggressively into the content arena with Sony/BMG Music, Sony Pictures and surprisingly even has a Sony Bank, Sony Assurance and Sony Life divisions.

"Sony is an entertainment concern like a Viacom or Disney without the devices," he says, alluding to the increasing Sony content focus."

He says: "iTunes won't play on Windows devices and Sony songs won't work on iPods, so we launched Sony Connect which is, as are the others, more track-based and less album-based sales of music."

How much autonomy did Deering have from the Tokyo executives at Sony?

"Tokyo let us run and expand the business while giving us the resources to do it. We had a good amount of self-determination. SCE was set-up to be a JV between Sony Music and Sony Electronics, so generally the type of response I would get from them was 'Please get on with it - we're busy!'

"Japan was kind of the Hollywood of games, and particularly game devices, though the command and control within the electronics industry is traditionally much stronger."

Why hasn't Deering started his own business?

"Because I like things that make a big impact - like millions of people using the Gillette product, and the same at Atari. I'm not sure I could have built a company with that kind of impact. But who wouldn't have wanted to start eBay or Google?"

Now that he's retired, does Deering think he'll take the entrepreneurial plunge?

"If I do," he said, "it'll be around a concept where application software helps you find what you want - I call it 'concierge'.

"If Google's a 'librarian' whom you ask for a particular book title, then concierge is a librarian who discriminates and makes selections for you based on learning what you like. So, everybody's around the dining-room table snacking - and more and more we're snacking on digital content. The 'entertainment concierge' comes to you, on your mobile or whatever, and says 'there's a live event going on right now that you're gonna love'." ®

Bill Robinson may be reached at: bill@relentlessmarketing.com

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