Posts tagged “metreon”

Sony sells Metreon

More hubris for Sony as they sell the Metreon

Lisa Carparelli, a spokeswoman for Sony, said the company pulled out as Metreon’s original owner upon reviewing its corporate strategy and deciding to focus it on electronics, entertainment and games.

‘We had success in Metreon,’ Carparelli said. ‘We attracted an average of 6 million people a year, but the decision is based on corporate resources.’

Sony will continue to operate the Sony Style Store and the PlayStation store inside the Metreon. ‘We’ll be in essence a tenant,’ Carparelli said.

Visitors panned an exhibit based on the book ‘The Way Things Work’ as boring, and it closed in summer 2001. An anchor Microsoft store closed later that year. An exhibit based on Maurice Sendak’s book ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ was scaled back to four days a week and later closed. The Discovery Channel store closed in 2003.

The movie theaters flourished. But Sony didn’t receive any revenue from the theaters and in 2002 rebuffed a quiet proposal by the theaters to expand into the by-then-vacant fourth floor.

One industry observer said the complex ended up with a mostly teenage clientele that alienated the upscale families whom Sony had intended to attract.

‘Sony envisioned a much higher-end customer than ultimately wanted to be there,’ Taylor said.

‘The tenants they put in originally were very unique and esoteric. The Discovery Channel had unique things, but they were for affluent people with lots of disposable income for cute knick-knacks. The most successful tenants were ones who catered to the teenage moviegoing crowd, like the pinball arcades. They intimidated the more affluent crowds looking for a more museumlike experience.’

I guess hindsight is 20-20 in situations like these. Sony in Japan offers pretty much every sort of service you can think of; in the US their attempt at a mall mostly failed (despite their positive spin). It never really had any meaning – there was little Sony about it, and the Metreon brand never seemed to grow into anything. And the place itself always lacked coherence as an experience. Let’s see if it’ll become anything I care about now, though.

Also from this story:

I was shown around the building by a Metreon staffer as workers scurried to finish the project in time. Everyone I’d spoken with had gushed about how Metreon was going to reinvent retailing and serve as a model for similar ventures worldwide.

I said to my guide: “So the mall … ”

“It’s not a mall,” she interrupted. “It’s an urban entertainment destination.”


“It’s an urban entertainment destination.”

I dutifully described the place as such in the article I’d been hired to write. But I had no clue what Sony meant. Metreon was a mix of stores, eating places and a movie theater.

It was a mall.

Sony never understood this. Nor did it grasp Bryant’s notion of a seamless entertainment-retail experience. Instead, it attempted to package Metreon as a mini-Disneyland, with a handful of attractions and a bunch of ways to spend money.


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