Tag: ‘Sony’

Secret ‘Sony timer’ kills products after warranty?

13 Jan 2010

Call it the rumor that wouldn't die. For decades, people in Japan have alleged that Sony installs a secret timer in its products that causes them to fail after a specific period of time.

Sony timer? --

Speculation about the existence of this so-called "Sony timer" emerged in the 1980s and 1990s as consumers grew increasingly suspicious of Sony devices that stopped working just after the warranty expired. According to the theory, Sony's time-activated kill switches are designed to boost sales by driving consumers to purchase replacement parts, repairs, or new models (often the cheapest option) after a scheduled period.

Today, decades after the rumors began, people still talk about the Sony timer. In 2006, after a string of laptop explosions prompted a global recall of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries manufactured by Sony Energy Devices Corporation, Japanese Internet forums were flooded with sarcastic comments raving about how effective the latest generation of Sony timers had become.

Clearly, much of the speculation about hidden Sony timers is tongue-in-cheek, but some people appear to take the claims seriously, pointing to the suspiciously precise timing of product failures as evidence of foul play. Regardless of whether or not Sony timers actually exist, the company has been dogged by the perception that its products break down just outside warranty.

Sony timer? --

Although "Sony timer" has long been a household phrase in Japan, company officials have only rarely acknowledged the rumors in public. In June 2006, an executive who oversaw the establishment of the VAIO customer service center attracted attention when he mentioned the Sony timer in a speech at G-Force Japan, a large annual conference for the Japanese call center industry. "It's absurd to think that Sony would install timers that cause products to fail just 13 months after purchase," he told the audience. "But for some reason, people continue to have this perception. Our marketing, customer service and product development departments are making a deliberate and concerted effort to improve Sony's image," he said.

At a shareholders' meeting in June 2007, in a speech outlining new measures to ensure product quality and improve the Sony brand image, former company president (current vice-chairman) Ryoji Chubachi admitted he knew the phrase "Sony timer."

Sony timer? --

Despite the decades of rumors and speculation, nobody has ever proven the existence of the Sony timer. Skeptics argue that if such timers actually existed, a rival company would likely have found one and made it public. With this in mind, the Sony timer is widely considered an urban legend.

[Note: This is the second installment in a series of weekly posts about urban legends from Japan. Check back next week for another report.]

Wicked Walkman web videos

26 Feb 2009

As part of an online marketing campaign for the Walkman media player over the past few years, Sony has produced over a dozen short videos featuring a stellar assortment of underground Japanese musicians cutting loose in the studio.

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- Tucker

DJ/keyboardist Tucker shows off his mad cooking skills by whipping up a spicy blend of rhythmic kitchen noise topped with crunchy guitar. >>> Video

+ More Tucker: Clocks, toys & turntable // Oil drum, thumb piano, bass & keyboards // Guitar, bass & keyboards // Misc. items in aquarium

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- Fuyuki Yamakawa

- Video

Armed with a bone conduction microphone and electric artificial larynx, performance artist/body musician Fuyuki Yamakawa drops a flurry of skull-thumping, mouth-tweaking beats.

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- Tomo Yamaguchi

- Video

Wearing an assortment of tin containers, junk percussionist Tomo Yamaguchi crashes and bangs his way through quiet residential backstreets.

+ More: Studio solo // Collaboration with Tucker

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- Goma da Didgeridoo

- Video

Goma da Didgeridoo plays the aboriginal wind instrument with a twist of techno.

+ More: Collaboration with chef Tucker

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- Atsuhiro Ito

- Video

Atsuhiro Ito gets down with the Optron, a miked-up fluorescent light tube run through an array of effects pedals.

+ More: Collaboration with drummer Yoichiro Shin

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- Taeji Sawai

- Video

Interactive media designer Taeji Sawai shows off his scintillating light-controlled sound generator.

+ More: Ito's Optron vs. Sawai's light-controlled sound generator

Flexible, full-color OLED display

24 May 2007

Flexible organic EL display --

On May 24, Sony unveiled what it is calling the world's first flexible, full-color organic light emitting diode (OLED) display built on organic thin-film transistor (TFT) technology. OLEDs typically use a glass substrate, but Sony researchers developed new technology for forming organic TFT on a plastic substrate, enabling them to create a thin, lightweight and flexible full-color display. The 2.5-inch prototype display supports 16.8 million colors at a 120 x 160 pixel resolution (80 ppi, .318-mm pixel pitch), is 0.3 mm thick and weighs 1.5 grams without the driver.

According to Sony, which plans to release a new line of miniature TVs this year and is bolstering efforts to develop next-generation flat-panel OLEDs, this new technology will lead to the development of thinner, lighter and softer electronics.

The company is scheduled to present the results of its research at the SID 2007 International Symposium now underway in the US.

Here's the video.

[Source: IT Media, Sony press release]