My Advice to Sony: Innovate – Don’t Copy the iPhone

I rolled my eyes upward when I read this item in Reuters…

Sony eyes cellphone/game gear hybrid – Nikkei

Hmm… A cellphone that plays games… Sounds like another iPhone wannabe clone to me. Of course, other phones could install and play game apps long before the iPhone: Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, Palm OS and even the now defunct UIQ that Sony used. But, the iPhone is the first platform that really got people to actually buy apps, download, install and use them in large numbers (in terms of both people and apps).

Sony has a long history of innovation: First popular consumer video tape product (Betamax), the Walkman, the Discman (1st portable CD player I heard of), 3.5-inch floppy disks and, of course, the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. Of course, they’ve had their share of clunkers too: Mini-disc and Memory Stick come to mind.

To attempt to imitate the iPhone now seems pointless. Here’s my suggestion for Sony: Reinvent the current mobile device concept. How about going against the common wisdom of one device replacing everything with a two-device combo that reduces the power wireless carriers have over both manufacturers and consumers. The device sold by carriers would be a simple device that could make voice calls and have 3G data. A second device sold independently could work wirelessly (or cabled) to deliver all the intelligent functions. Since, it is not sold by telcos, it could be replaced every year without dealing with telco contracts and upgrade pricing schemes. I used a Sony Ericsson T305 phone with a Windows Mobile Pocket PC like this years ago. I made phone calls with the Sony phone and tethered it to my Windows Mobile PDA using Bluetooth for web browsing, email and even phone dialing from my contacst list. It was a great combo. I could replace the PDA without dealing with the phone company.