Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Here is an annoyed comment from a writer about a statement from Sony's president of computer game design. It seems the president boasted that no developer will ever use the capacity of the new Playstation 3 machine from the company. That smacks of "famous last words."

There are some companies that never seem to learn humility about their products -- that is, to let products speak for themselves. Years ago, when I had the German sports car company, Porsche, for a client, its engineers taught me a marketing lesson.

Top speed in a sports car is a number auto journalists always quote. They will give the top speed listed by the company, and top speed they obtained in testing. With most sports car companies, listed top speed was higher than what a lead-foot journalist was able to attain. With Porsche, it was usually the opposite. Porsche always gained from this conservatism because the journalist would make special note of it.

"Porsche says their new model is capable of 150 miles per hour, but we were hitting 155 mph down the stretch."

Why did Porsche do that? Its engineers explained to me that the firm only listed top sustained speed of their cars. On good days with the right fuel, road and temperature, a car could go faster, but that wasn't sustainable, if conditions changed. Porsche's engineers wanted to be accurate, and journalists appreciated it. Besides, it made the journalists feel better that they were able to squeeze a few mph more out of a road rocket.

So, here is a Sony executive boasting that no one will ever use the capacity of its new machine. Wouldn't you guess that ticked off developers who sooner or later will max the machine out? There are days when I think it would be better if engineers ran marketing rather than marketers. Certainly, PR people shouldn't let executives boast like that. They should remind them that humility rarely hurts.


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