Sony Pictures and The Interview: a horrible mess from the opening scene to the closing credits

Sony Pictures’ handling of the premier of The Interview has shown once again that it is one of the most inept companies on the planet. Following on from the sorry episode of data robbery, something that no company is safe from — although Sony appears to have had very poor security practices — it attempted to intimidate the media with legal action to prevent publication of damaging information stolen by the hackers. The decisions it has taken since have only made matters worse: first, it irresponsibly suspended the premier of the film, saying it had no plans to distribute it in any other way, despite calls from many quarters, including this one, that giving in to threats was sending out the wrong message, even prompting criticism from the president of the United States.

But no situation is so bad that it can’t be made worse, and Sony, after sending out all sorts of confusing signals, made it abundantly clear it hasn’t the slightest idea about how to properly organize an online premier, utterly lacking the required skills to carry out something that for years now has evidently been a key step toward understanding the future of the movie industry. Eventually, the company turned to Google. Yes, Google, that very same Google that we now know, thanks to information leaked as a result of the theft of Sony’s information, the company was conspiring to topple. It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?

But of course Sony wanted to impose so many restrictions on Google about prices, geographic areas (it’s is only available for the moment in the United States), and that the movie had to be a guaranteed success… that the movie is now available on dozens of P2P sites and has been downloaded for free by more than 200,000 people, a figure that is rising rapidly. What could have been an opportunity to try out alternative distribution channels via the web, which pitched at the right price and universally available, could have built on the momentum gained by global media coverage of what is by all accounts a very poor film, has instead turned out to be yet another example of Sony’s incompetence and utter inability to understand the dynamics of P2P and how to respond to the phenomenon.

So, congratulations Sony Pictures. As a company you are undoubtedly inefficient, clumsy and absurd, and you have taken some of the most catastrophic decisions that will be studied for years to come in business schools around the world, in the humble opinion of this business school professor.

A word of advice to Sony employees; the same ones now bringing legal action against their employer: when you finally manage to extricate yourself from Sony’s clutches and look for a different job, don’t tell anybody where you used to work. I don’t think that it’s going to look too good on your resume.

(En español, aquí)

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