Last Friday, in Tokyo, Sony President Ryoji Chubachi gave an interview to Reuters and, in response to a question, said, "At present, we have no plans" to cut the price of the PlayStation 3.
It was a fair statement, despite rumors swirling around that there were indeed going to be price cuts for the PS3, something many saw as a necessary move to staunch ebbing consumer confidence in the company and in its flagship video game console.
But then, on Monday, lo and behold, the company announced to the world that it was slashing $100 off its 60GB PS3, bringing down the price to $499.
So, which is it, Sony? No price cut? Or price cut. And what's going on with your communications of such business decisions?
Well, I asked Sony that very question Tuesday, and in response, I got the following statement from a spokesman: "The confusion regarding North America price cuts on the PS3 stems from comments made by a senior Sony Corporation executive last week in Tokyo, who simply said that there was no announcement to be made by Sony Corporation at that time. Pricing strategy is a very important, sensitive and competitive area, and not something we would discuss before we were ready to announce public details."
Hmm, I thought. I mean, fair enough, pricing information is sensitive, and no one can realistically expect a company like Sony to reveal such details before it is ready to do so.
But then, it seems to me, the company's public-facing executives should be a little more careful with their language. Saying "we have no plans" to cut prices seems pretty declarative and carries with it the connotation that it will be some time before such an event happens. And for a hungry press, eager to report developments in the PS3 saga, this was a tasty morsel.
To then announce, just three days later, that there is in fact a price cut makes the media look foolish--of course, no one really cares about that, nor should they--but it also makes Sony look bad, and cynically calculating.
So, if there's any lesson to be learned here, it seems to me that it's that big companies like Sony should get their messages straight, and should be cautious about their phrasing.
If they didn't want to get into the details of the price cut, but knew it was about to happen, then they should have said "no comment," and left it at that.