Friday, November 18, 2005

Sony's Business Strategy: When the World is Split Into Two Camps, Make Them All Mad

If you haven't seen the the Sony Rootkit story yet, here's a good layman's synopsis. In a nutshell, Sony's copy protection program on some CD's hides from the operating system, is installed without permission, is not indicated in the EULA, has huge holes being exploited by hackers, is difficult to remove, new removal tools introduce new vulnerabilities, has spawned a rash of lawsuits and has been classified as spyware. Whew! Now that you're caught up, here's the fun part.

Microsoft classified the rootkit as spyware that will be removed by it's anti-spyware tool. Critics may disagree, but I think MS is moving strongly into the anti-virus/anti-spyware space because they are tired of being blamed for every security problem. The press is forcing MS to become a defender of the desktop, even when customers act irresponsibly. So Sony has managed to upset MS and a lot of Windows users.

But hey, the open source folks are fine right? Well, now it appears that Sony used open source code inappropriately (they didn't make their resulting source code open source as well) and they appear to have violated the GPL license. So now the Open Source folks are up in arms.

There are many religious wars in the world. Mac vs Windows, Windows vs. Linux, Intel vs. AMD. But the Windows/Linux fued really gets people stirred up. So from a raw business perspective, why would risk antagonizing both camps?

I think the Sony folks are naive. They don't realize that the world has changed. Ignorance is not longer a strategy. The internet is becoming an awfully big flashlight and when it finds the dark things hiding in the closet, they're not pretty. It's time for Sony to clean out the closet.

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