Sony has told Japanese resellers to take a walk after announcing plans to pull its range of robotic dogs out of retail stores and sell direct.
The move to sell its Aibo line of robotic pets exclusively through the SonyStyle online and telephone shopping service was detailed in a statement. The change will take effect from April and means customers in Japan (other markets are not affected) are no longer able to buy Aibo through outlets such as major electronics retailers and department stores.
“The main reason is that we have a very close relationship with our customers who buy Aibo and we feel it is important to enhance the relationship and consult with them rather than just sell Aibo in mass retail shops,” a spokesperson for Sony, Harumi Asai, said. ARN has no idea whether he managed to keep a straight face but the move looks sure to put Sony in the dog house with affected resellers, who will no doubt accuse the electronics giant of biting the hand that feeds it.
When Aibo first went on sale in 1999, the 3000 models allocated to Japanese customers sold out within 20 minutes and the 2000 sitting on US shelves disappeared in four days despite the hefty $US2360 price tag. When a second batch was put up for grabs later in the year there were 135,000 applicants looking to provide a good home, all but 3000 of which came from Japan.
The latest breed of Aibo — the ERS-7 — went on sale in Japan last September with a price tag of about $US1750.