In the very innovative electronics industry, Sony faces a slew of competitors such as Apple, Samsung, and others. While Sony was once the pinnacle of innovative devices such as the Sony Walkman and Discman, it has been overtaken by industry leaders Apple’s and Samsung’s products including smart phones and devices. Now, Sony is seeking to reestablish itself in the U.S. with its totally charming robotic dog – Aibo (Japanese word for a pal).
Aibo isn’t totally new; it was first released in 1999 and then discontinued in 2006 – to the dismay of many thousands of Aibo owners in Japan. The new litter of Aibo puppies combines robotics with a cloud-connected artificial intelligence (AI) engine and advanced imaging sensors. And, as Aibo interacts with its owners over time, it will develop a unique personality to make owners happy and form bonds with the family members.
Like many real-life puppies, Aibo doesn’t come cheap. It has a price tag of $2,899 which limits how many families can afford to adopt from the new litter. Sony’s goal does not appear to be market penetration, but is instead using the product to show the company’s innovation skills by combining software, hardware, and services, as well as rebuilding brand awareness.
Sony wants to connect with consumers on an emotional level with Aibo. The puppy has more than 400 parts and 22 points of movement, making it move more like a real animal. The eyes are displays so that its gaze can follow its owner around the room, and it can learn doggie tricks like fetch and shake hands by using the Aibo app. Aibo can also take photos and videos to share with the family.
How much is that doggie in the window?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss new product innovation and its importance to electronics companies.
- Show Aibo Web site: https://us.aibo.com/
- Show Video: https://youtu.be/oGo0TwNXXuo
- Discuss the various promotional tactics that can be used for launching a product.
- Have students come up with tactics and list all the tactics on the white board (ex: billboards, print, direct mail, etc.).
- Divide students into groups to work on this exercise.
- For Aibo, have each team select three different tactics. For each tactic, explain why it was selected and how it will be used.
- Debrief by putting together the entire suggested lists on the white board. As a final step, have the entire class vote on the top three tactics to use.
Source: Tsukayama, H. (23 August 2018). The rebirth of Aibo is also a chance to revitalize Sony’s brand. Washington Post.