John Gruber of Daring Fireball recently wrote on the “pathological” level of herd mentality in the PC manufacturer industry — with Apple as the notable exception — and chided similarly large companies for giving up and letting Microsoft be the only OS game in town.
It should be embarrassing to companies like Dell and Sony, with deep pockets and strong brand names, that they’re stuck selling computers with the same copy of Windows installed as the no-name brands.
But here’s something Gruber missed: Sony does make an OS. It’s running the PS3.
Gruber praises Apple for not cowing to the unimaginative PC industry that believes Apple should only make hardware, or only make software, or that Apple must make a tablet or a netbook, just because everyone else does. Apple is held in justly high regard for being smart and not entering into these predictable and low-margin markets. But then in the above quote, Gruber inadvertently does the same thing to Sony.
So why doesn’t Sony put more resources into developing an OS for the PC to compete with Microsoft? Sony already competes with Microsoft in the PS3 vs. Xbox war. If Sony is primarily an entertainment company, wouldn’t it be advantageous for them to produce a new and better entertainment system rather than a new and better PC?
Just as Apple doesn’t hitch its star to the low-cost PC industry, Sony is choosing to back its own fancy-pants, overpriced entertainment device. Wouldn’t Sony rather sell more PS3s (and more importantly, PS3 games) than sell just another laptop running someone else’s software?
What does the typical PC user need their computer to do? The PS3 plays video games, it plays Blu-Ray movies, it displays photos, it surfs the internet, it even streams NetFlix. Rather than build a whole new OS, and invite all the hardware/driver/support headaches that come with it, Sony wrote an OS to run on one device — it sounds like they are already both a hardware and software manufacturer, and are going about it in a very Apple-ish way.
Sony would be throwing money away building a new PC OS from scratch, especially this late in the game. Leave that to Google, which regularly makes unprofitable software. Just as PC manufacturers are locked in a herd mentality, Gruber has been blind to the other areas outside the PC where Sony can thrive.