Sony CEO shows how to react to PR disasters

PS3 abstract
PlayStation's new motto: "Tis but a scratch"?

Sony boss Howard Stringer is a funny guy.

His comments about the PlayStation Network outage - the result, let's not forget, of the biggest case of compromised customer data the internet has ever seen - made us laugh: a huge, hugely embarrassing and potentially brand-ruining disaster "is a hiccup in the road to a network future."

Is anybody else thinking of The Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? "Tis but a scratch." Your arm's off! "No, it isn't."

I think we should be encouraging this kind of silliness.

Reality distortion

Remember Antennagate, when it turned out that iPhone signal bars dropped if anybody actually touched their phone? Did Steve Jobs stand up on stage, tearing at his turtleneck, apologising for Apple's very existence and begging the press for forgiveness? Of course he didn't.

What Jobs did was this. First, he denied that there was a problem. That went on for quite a while. Then, Jobs called a press conference at which he surprised everyone by pulling out a phone that Apple didn't make.

It was a BlackBerry, and stunned hacks watched in silence as Jobs hurled it to the floor, ground it under his heel and finally held the ruined remains to his ear. "Hello!" he bellowed, while doing a curious jig. "Hello? Hello hello hello hello?"

That's how I remember it, anyway. There was definitely something to do with BlackBerries.

Howard Stringer can't travel back in time and prevent the PSN hack from happening, and he can't stand up and say "I know! We're dicks!" for fear of sending Sony's share price towards the centre of the Earth.

Trapped between a rock and a hard place, Stringer hasn't chosen the rock - but he hasn't chosen the hard place either. No, he's too smart for that. He's opted out completely and gone for a mad place instead.

Let's have more.

Let's have Facebook paying PR firms to place stories that Google is a big bunch of privacy invaders.

Let's have O2 trying to persuade us that burglars stole their network.

And let's have HP pretending that it isn't using Thunderbolt because Thunderbolt is rubbish rather than because Apple got it first.

What do you mean they're doing that already?

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.