How are the mighty fallen

This morning’s Observer column.

You have to feel sorry for Sony sometimes. I mean to say, there it was on Wednesday in Berlin, at the IFA consumer electronics show, launching a new music and video download service called Qriocity (it’s like “curiosity”, only it couldn’t get the domain name, I suppose) – and what happens? Steve Jobs goes on stage in San Francisco and announces that Apple is having another go at the TV download business.

And guess who gets all the media coverage?

How are the mighty fallen. I remember a time when Sony dominated the gadgetry business, when it was a synonym for elegant design and advanced functionality, when Walkmans ruled the world. It had shops in upmarket malls where young males came to drool. And now? Ask a teenager about Sony and s/he will reply: “Aren’t they the outfit that makes flat-screen TVs and DVD players and other stuff for adults?”