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Could blogs save Sony from slaughtered goats and rootkits?

Known for being tight lipped, Sony launches first-ever blogs and stronger customer links can only help the company avoid repeating recent missteps.

Sony fans, the famously secretive company is extending a hand. For the first time in the conglomerate's history, it has begun blogging as it seeks a much more open exchange of information with customers.

In the past month, Sony has launched two blogs. The most recent came Tuesday with the debut of a blog from Sony Electronics. The company's PlayStation unit began blogging about a month ago.

Corporate blogs are designed to build stronger ties with customers and have been around for years. For Sony, a blog might pay additional dividends. For instance, the electronics giant could learn in advance that customers might consider it in poor taste to promote a videogame with half-naked dancing girls and a slaughtered goat, or might balk at paying $600 for a videogame console, or might downright revolt if their computers are exposed to rootkits.

Why did it take so long for Sony to reach out to customers? Sony follows such cutting-edge tech companies as Ford, General Motors and Maytag.

One has to realize that letting go of information has never been one of the company's strengths, say analysts.

"Blogging is a huge step for such a closed-off company," said Josh Bernoff, an analyst with Forrester Research. "This eliminates some of the barriers between the company and its customers"

Written by Rick Clancy, who runs corporate communications for Sony Electronics, the blog will feature the usual fare. Clancy will highlight where the company is winning, such as high definition technology, Bravia televisions and digital imaging. The company will also post moderated comments from readers, according to Clancy.

"It will give us the real-time feedback of what Sony customers want," Clancy said.

But Sony should be careful. Google found out two weeks ago that being too talkie on a blog can backfire. A Google executive who disliked Michael Moore's Sicko wrote on one of the company's blogs that the search engine could help defend the healthcare industry. After a wave of criticism, Google was forced to admit "We blew it."