Why would Sony launch a product that consumers can’t buy?

This past Tuesday, Sony announced the Sony Reader Daily Edition.  By many accounts so far, a worthwhile challenger to the New_Reader_Open_Angle_F_medlatest Kindle (or at least it will be when it is available in about four months).

As someone who has been critical of Sony product names in the past (as have others), I first have to praise Sony for coming up with a name (rather than a model number) for its latest Reader.  It’s nice to see the people who came up with “Walkman” back on track with naming.

On the other hand…

One of the most basic launch rules is “Don’t launch a product until its ready.” so what I can’t understand is why Sony would launch this product when:

Compare this to how Bose and Amazon and Apple all launch products.

Bose: Bose announced its QuiteComfort 15 noise canceling headphones on Wednesday, August 19th.  They were available in stores the next day.  In addition, on the 19th Bose.com prominently featured the product on its front page and had a complete product page ready (with product details,  tech support info, etc.)  Reporters were able to go into Bose stores a day before to do an on-site test/preview.

Amazon: Amazon announced the Kindle 2 on February 9 and although it would not ship for two weeks, they immediately began taking pre-orders.  Reporters at the launch event were given hands-on time with the product.

Apple: Apple is rumored to be having an event on September 9th.  Immediately following this event, I encourage you to read the news coverage then look on Apple.com.  If past patterns hold true, the new products will be there front and center… and they will be available for consumers within two weeks… if not immediately.

Announce vs. Launch

In this post I have used announce and launch interchangeably.  I have done this deliberately because when consumers see a news article about a new product they don’t differentiate the announcement from the launch.  Yes, occasionally, a product can be announced to the industry (with a consumer launch following) but in those (rare) cases coverage does not end up in Business Week, on local TV news or in the Arts section of the Times.

Launch when ready!