Chances are that by the time you read this, not only will the title of this post have gone through 10 different revisions but so will have what I’ve written here. And that’s just for me announcing some of the big changes that are going to take effect soon. In my own mind, I’ve likely gone through hundreds of versions and reasons for changing the site (or not), a identity that’s been established for now nearly a decade. But before I get into why SonyRumors is going to become Sony Reconsidered, let’s start from the beginning.
SRN history from 1877 to present
It’s crazy to think that it’s almost been a decade since SRN started. When it did in 2008, the site and my views about online journalism/blogging were fairly naive but as time progressed, so did everything with the site. It went from a basic WordPress site to one on its own servers and like all things, eventually better servers were needed, and those better servers needed more RAM, etc. Besides the underpinnings of SRN improving over the years, so has what the site can do and offer. Again from a simple WP blog theme to the now custom built site that you see today which is tied to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/YouTube and whatever other social platforms that have arisen during this time.
However the one thing that hasn’t changed is the core reason the site exists. Back in 2008, the goal and drive was simple – to create a site for Sony fans to get their news from. I’m sure some of you have guessed at this and others who know me in person know it to be a fact but I quite the close ties with Apple which is how this site came to be. Looking around back then, there were and continue to be numerous sites that cover Apple in a near obsessive manor but none for Sony. Expand out a bit and you’ll find individual sites that cover either PlayStation, phone, or camera business but there was no one true destination for everything Sony. Add to that mix my personal belief that Sony doesn’t always get a fair run from the press and the idea of creating a site that was all about Sony seemed ripe for the fruition.
Quickly jumping back to my naive stance, I also firmly believed that SRN was a place where I could put my thoughts out into the world and that perhaps someone from Sony would recognize, value, and act upon them. After all, I was bringing perspective from a company that approached product, marketing, and even outreach quite different than how Sony operated so surely there would be some value for them. In looking back, I tend to not be happy with what I’ve written 6 months ago so I can perhaps see why no one at Sony was eager to give me a call about taking over their operations.
From a single voice, I eventually tried my hand at growing SRN, to compete with the big boys like Engadget, The Verge, DualShockers, and what have you and for a while we did. There would be weekly PlayStation Store release updates, movie reviews, Blu-ray releases, editorial series, but none of them felt right to the core of what the site was to be. Also operating on a budget of hopes and dreams apparently doesn’t pay the bills which makes retention of staff a hard affair. As for myself, I could justify working on the site for hours upon hours after my normal job ended but it’s hard to have that same expectations for others and eventually I began to once again slim down the site to just me, with Allegra, now my wife, as the editor.
Long story short, SRN has always been and will continue to be a place for those who love Sony/PlayStation – that’s not going to change. What is going to change is pretty much everything else. If you’ve noticed a shift in the way I cover things in the past few months, it’s not you, it’s me. When I was attempting to compete with the big boys, I treated the site as an original destination for news, meaning that I’d take whatever announcement and try to say it all over again without repeating what had been written 10 times over. And for anybody who has covered the specs of a recently released speaker or changes to a TV lineup, you’ll know that you can only write something in so many ways. This alone slowed down what I’d cover but more importantly, didn’t differentiate what was on SRN compared to any different site. I just happened to write about it slightly different but what you ultimately got out of here was exactly the same as any other site, albeit a few hours or a day later, seeing how I don’t have a world wide team that’s only job is to cover Sony.
Enter the transition of the past 6 months where I’m less likely to cover to a specific announcement from scratch and more likely to point you to pieces written about Sony with highlights of it posted here alongside my own commentary. One thing that absolutely appalls me is most of the coverage around technology today which lacks any form of context. In my long time as a consultant where many times I’m coming into the picture to fix a mess, I’ve learned to have respect for the person that was there before me – and this extends to my coverage of Sony as well. This doesn’t mean giving them a pass but instead, to understand why they made the decision that they did. At times, I find the story around the products far more interesting than a given product itself. Sony wasn’t “stupid” when they launched PS4 Pro without a 4K Blu-ray drive, nor are they oblivious to the fact that we in the US also want a Fingerprint sensor on the Xperia.
In fact I’ll go as far as to say that for any company, be it Sony or Apple, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt before I park the bus over them because I guarantee you that they’re filled with talented women and men who obsess way more than you and me about their products. And so the story of what went into bringing the Xperia Ear to market and comparing it against the AirPods is far more interesting than a topic that just covers the unit in general terms. It’s also far more interesting to analyze the Xperia Ear in order to better understand where Sony might go with a product like it and attempt to tie it to other related news, both from Sony and the industry. Now this shouldn’t be taken as somehow I’ve been soft or will be soft on Sony; as regular readers know, I have no problem pointing out the many faults that lie within the company.
But even when pointing out the faults at Sony, I hope to do with more context, clarity, and constructive criticism which brings us to the name. SonyRumors was started as a place that wanted to report nonstop on Sony, including whatever news and rumors I could get my hands on. Today, I find that less interesting (though that doesn’t mean I’ll stop reporting on them) than looking at Sony and reporting the news around them with context – enter Sony Reconsidered.
Come for the name change, stay for the revamped platform
Simply coming up with Sony Reconsidered was an affair that took many glasses of wine and the dictionary, seeing how I wanted to keep as much as of the previous identity intact as possible. Originally when the site started, I wanted it to be SonyRumors.com but seeing how that domain was taken, I settled on SonyRumors.net and SRN was born which I must say has a nice ring to it. With the logo and SRN set, I knew I’d be limited with my word choices and to the dictionary I went. Of course when you’re a smaller site like this, rebranding can be a daunting exercise because it’s so much more than just redoing your logo.
In addition to changing the name and making sure all the old content transfer over to the name domain, I have to ensure proper back-end wizardry is done that SEO and URL structures don’t all break, killing years of links coming to the site. Inevitably, I’m sure the site will take a hit as some links will cease to work, as I’m sure the site will take a hit simply for taking the word “rumors” out of the title – what an SEO goldmine. Ultimately, for the most part, everything ever published on SRN should stay in tact but the site will be going under a more major transition than just changing the name, which isn’t already easy.
With the name change, I’m also finally shifting away from WordPress to Medium. Medium, a fairly new destination for writers, strikes the perfect balance of simplicity and power to run a site like SRN but offers so much more. For all you design fanatics, you should also notice subtle tweaks to the logo and a far simpler and more flat design across all of our channels.
Say hello to Medium
Running your own WP site isn’t cheap when you tack on the need for having your own dedicated servers. In my case, I run a VPS server from BlueHost which adds up pretty quickly, considering SRN hardly serves up any ads to you. With our shift to Medium, ads will be entirely gone. Don’t get me wrong, some features will go away like the sidebar where I have our Instagram feed and other links populate, as will any comments that have been posted here in the last decade but for every feature lost, the site will be gaining a whole bunch more.
First, no matter how much I pay Bluehost, I can’t count the number of times the site has gone down and it always appears to be around big events like CES. Just last year, I believe the site was down the first 48hrs of CES, our busiest time of the year. Other ideas I’ve tossed around with friends for SRN has been a native app which offers push notifications so you can better gauge when new content is released. With Medium all that is solved as they provide a native iOS and Android app, plus a fantastic desktop experience.
Sure the Disqus comment section is going but with Medium’s commenting abilities, talking with you will be richer than ever with the ability for you to highlight specific parts of the article and comment on them directly. Better yet, you can easily grab portions of what I’ve written and share to your own Medium profile and include your own commentary along side it if you wish. Luckily this has never been a drastic problem on Medium but due to the need to jump trough an extra hoop to create an account, trolling is far less rampant than in the comment sections on any other site.
Best yet, Medium has a great discovery platform that will allow you to find the works of other writers and not just mine. Did I mention no ads? Though Medium does also provide a pay feature for those of you want to pitch in towards the site, or if I ever want to offer more premium content behind some form of subscription. I should also note that the two big reasons that SRN has been mainly ad free is because of all of you.
First, the idea of having ads that pop up and take you out of reading what I’ve written is beyond atrocious, and that awful experience, which inevitably slows down any website, is only heightened on mobile. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it’s about your privacy. Ad networks, especially from Google, are notorious for mining your data and I’ve never been comfortable with that notion. You didn’t sign up to have cookies and trackers mine your data. You came to SRN to read about Sony and it’s my responsibility to ensure that that’s all that takes place here. While more and more of what we do is tracked these days and our data is sold from one firm to another so they can better build a profile of us, if I can help it, I want to make one less destination that plays into that. While SRN has always strived for that, we will be able to do that better than ever now.
I should also point out that this massive undertaking goes beyond just a reflection of where the site is today. One thing that I’ve always struggled with is having a healthy relationship with Sony. Due to so much turmoil and downsizing that’s taken place within the company, all my contacts have been on a personal basis. If I can meet the person a few times and give them a sense of the site and myself, I usually walk away with a champion of SRN and better yet, a friend. But when I need to reach out to various people with the company or my friends need to pass my information along to someone else, the task suddenly becomes this daunting challenge due to that ever dreaded word for a company like theirs which leaks more than the Titanic – rumors.
Now ironically, even when I tend to report on rumors, it’s long after any of the big publications have ran it so when I post likely has ever little impact in tipping the news one way or another. Still, with Sony Reconsidered as the name, I hope that it serves as better grounds for me to find connections within Sony. I’ve always found it perhaps a bit alarming that here is my site, dedicated to everything Sony does with our readers here for one thing, and only one thing, Sony, and yet they still don’t want to ever deal with us. Hopefully this new name will go a long ways towards amending whatever fears they have about that.
By the time you’re reading this, Allegra and I will be well on our way to Las Vegas for CES 2017 and the Sony press conference with our new name, business cards, and of course t-shirts. I’ve been going back and forth about the most optimal time to transition things over and this month, between the chaos of CES and the news overflow that follows it, seemed like the worst time to do it – which is why I’m doing it. Though over the next two weeks I might be pumping out less editorial work than I normally do, the amount I write easily eclipses any other month as does the site traffic. Between written pieces on new product announcements, video previews from the show floor, and whatever else I’ll be posting on Instagram, January is when the most eyeballs are on the site and it’s the only time where I’ll be meeting with like-minded writers, industry insiders, and staff at Sony, making it the right time to bring the new naming online.
As it stands, I’m aiming to begin the official transition from SonyRumors to Sony Reconsidered on January 14th. Till then, make sure that you follow SRN across the social sphere as each platform is good for different kinds of content.
If you’re just jumping to the end, know that this isn’t goodbye. SRN isn’t going anywhere and besides a massive visual tweak, the content will be exactly what it’s been. Instead think of this transition as merely a tangible realization of something that took place in my mind months ago on how I cover Sony. For long time readers, thank you so much for being a part of this and I can’t wait to see where things go. For first time readers just finding this site, be it through Medium or some CES-related search, welcome to what I believe will be one of the best Sony sites you’ll visit.
For those eager to see what the new SRN will look like, the site has been secretly live and tested for a good few months now. Just head over to www.SonyReconsidered.com.
Oh yea and if you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for our weekly newsletter which casually revealed the new naming two months back. You can sign up for it here.