Sony 0, Microsoft 2 –PS Customers Screwed

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Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) Chief Executive Howard Stringer is living proof of “Murphy’s Law.”  Everything that could have gone wrong for the media and electronics giant has done so.

Last month came word that personal data of 100 million PlayStation users had been compromised by a hacker or hackers.  Stringer responded that the Japanese company could not guarantee the safety of any of its networks in the “bad new” modern world.  Sadly, he was right.

Hackers have struck Sony again.  Media reports say that Sony music and telecom networks in Canada, Thailand and Indonesia had been compromised.  It’s unclear whether these incidents are related to the PlayStation attack, which reportedly cost Sony $1 billion and left customers vulnerable to the potential theft of their credit card information. The question over whether the attacks are the work of the same individual or individuals  such as”Anonymous” is irrelevant anyway.

The timing 0f these incidents could not have come at a worse time for Sony.  Rival Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) has a huge hit with the Kinect Systems for the Xbox 360, which earlier this year made the Guinness Book of World Records as the “fastest selling consumer device.”  Unit sales for both the PlayStation and Xbox fell in March versus the previous month though they showed gains versus a year ago, according to the NPD Group. The data is bound to be affected by Sony’s security woes. Microsoft is bound to benefit as well.

Reputations can take decades to build and moments to lose.   Consumers understand that companies make mistakes.  They will have trouble forgiving firms for making the same error twice in a short period of time.

–Jonathan Berr