Sony has started believing that it should reach out and communicate with its fans and customers more. However, it appears to think that the way to do this is by asking them to crowdfund future products that are currently in development. Meet “First Flight”, Sony’s crowdsourcing platform that will allow it to seek funding directly from consumers instead of investors, or even from its own funds.
Sony has already put up several projects on First Flight, most notably the controversial FES e-ink watch. This simple watch was crowdfunded under a phantom company called Fashion Entertainment, which is owned by Sony. The watch itself is about as basic as it gets, aside from the e-ink display. While it looks like it should be a smartwatch, the FES does not have any other capabilities aside from telling the time and change watch face designs.
Two other products appearing on First Flight are the MESH kit, which allows users to add ‘smart’ connectivity options to a variety of devices, and HUIS remote control – which appears to be a programmable universal remote. It is difficult to consider the merits of these projects, considering that the site is only available in Japanese.
The electronics giant has been increasingly interested in using crowdfunding to gauge consumer response to its products. Last month it announced that it would launching a Kickstarter campaign for the long awaited Shenmue III during E3. That ruffled a lot of feathers as it looked like Sony was taking advantage of fans of the game by making them pay for the development of the game; especially since it was asking for a considerable $2 million.
First Flight will undoubtedly rub people the wrong way. Sony is a massive company with plenty of resources at its disposal, and should not have to rely on strategies like crowdfunding to finance new products. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo were meant to help startups find that initial seed funding to get off the ground, instead of allowing massive companies to build new things without risks. Even Kickstarter darling Pebble drew some flak when it decided to crowdsource its second generation Pebble Time.
[Source: Ars Technica]