I've waxed poetic on Weird Sony in the past — the Sony I knew as a child of the ’80s and ’90s, the Sony that wasn't afraid to make really bizarre and amazing gadgets simply because it could. It wasn't just about making an endless stream of high-margin crap; there was an obvious and obsessive attention to detail put into everything the company made, no matter how strange, no matter how outside the mainstream. Its design chops were legendary. You aspired to own Sony products back then, because they were the best and because they looked the part.
Every once in a while, I see a flicker of that old Sony I loved
Today, that Sony is mostly gone, a victim of ruthless competition and a long series of managerial missteps that have left it rudderless at times and generally unable to stave off the Samsung juggernaut that lies across the Sea of Japan.
Still, occasionally, Sony does something that has a flicker of that company I remember from 20 years ago. Take this BSP60, a Bluetooth-connected alarm clock that supports voice commands (a little like an Amazon Echo, I suppose) and works as a speakerphone. There's something about the design that evokes the Good Ol' Days — the days when Sony could make something like this and no one would ask any questions.
There's actually a lot going on here: if you notice, the design is also a modern take on the classic alarm clock shape, a circle with two bells on top. There's the hidden display beneath the glossy black surface. And there's the little lick of accent color beneath the "bells." I want it, and I want this version of Sony — not the version that sells off its hardware divisions piecemeal and completely abandons its reputation for industrial design.
And to be very clear, I don't care about the product itself: I bet the voice recognition isn't very good, and I already have an alarm clock I like (an old Sony, coincidentally). But this dumb little BSP60 is the embodiment of a Sony that no longer exists. I just want it on a shelf.
Now that I think about it, I guess that's part of Sony's problem.