What’s Happened to the Sony Smart Tennis Sensor?
In a market that showed so much promise, it seems the tennis sensor industry has died off a bit in 2017. While the world waits for new entrants (and there are some, but more on that later), a stack of people are asking “what’s happened to the Sony Smart Tennis Sensor?”
The Best Racket Sensor in the Business
In our tests, the Sony Smart Tennis Sensor came out ahead of its 3 main competitors: Zepp, Qlipp and Babolat Play. It was the most accurate by far and had the best suite of analytics.
So, when you’ve seemingly cornered the emerging market of tennis racket sensors, why vanish from the face of the earth? No explanation. No nothing. Just a stack of users wondering what happened and potential new customers wondering where they can get their hands on one.
We might have an answer.
We note that you can still purchase the sensor on the Sony Sensor webpage. We’d be surprised if it’s newly manufactured stock without battery problems. More likely it’s stock from one of the first two production runs. We know of at least one Sony International office having a stack of them and no idea what to do with them. You’ll be hard pressed to find one available from a tennis retailer.
Sony Smart Tennis Sensor Battery Issues
The first batch of Sony Smart Sensors hit the market with a bang. The product was new. The market was new in tennis, although doing well in other sports.
Then came batch number 2 and everything went south. It seems most of the sensors produced in the second round of shipments had major battery issues. Users found that when they plugged the sensor into the charger, the red light would illuminate on the sensor (as it’s supposed to) and then fade to black within seconds. Even leaving it in that state didn’t charge the sensor.
No battery charging. No sensor. Lots of unhappy customers.
So what happened between Batch 1 and Batch 2?
At the outset, we must say we have had no confirmation of this from Sony or any third party. This is “join-the-dots” stuff.
In 2016 a company by the name of Battery Conservation sued Sony for Patent Infringement. Battery Conservation holds a patent over technology that puts a device to sleep after a pre-determined period, thus conserving battery life.
The case was dismissed “Without Prejudice”.
Now, we’re not lawyers and certainly no experts in US (or any other) law. But we can sure as hell Google! Dismissed Without Prejudice means Sony settled the case but not to the extent that Battery Conservation can’t take them back to court for the same thing in the future.
So, our guess is (and we stress it’s a guess although a well educated one) Sony thought, OK, we’ll pay an undisclosed amount for the patent infringement to date, but we’re not paying a larger amount to ensure we can use it into the future.
As one of the biggest tech companies in the world, Sony no doubt thought they had something lying around a Tokyo factory that would do the job. A fiddle here and a faddle there and who needs the Battery Conservation tech any way.
Whatever fiddling and faddling they did to the next batch completely wrote the sensor battery off to the extent that it didn’t charge in the first place, let alone went into a period of sleep after inactivity.
Rather than fix the issue, it seems Sony have bailed out on the whole idea of a tennis sensor. Let’s face it, it’s not their core business any way. They probably thought there weren’t enough worldwide users that they’d take a big enough or broad enough hit, and they were right.
Hence, the Sony Smart Tennis Sensor seems to be no more.
A Side Note Related to the Zepp Sensor
Battery Conservation brought the same legal action against the Zepp Sensor, except this time it was “Dismissed With Prejudice”.
Having come to an agreement over settlement, the Zepp guys have probably paid out a higher amount to Battery Conservation such that the latter can’t bring the same action against them again.
In other words, Zepp paid for the initial breach of patent plus any future use. Sony just paid for the initial breach thinking they could use their own tech.
So, the question has to be asked, why would Zepp make sure they could use the tech in the future without fear of legal action? After all, it’s not like Zepp are producing a heap more sensors or updates to the current one.
We have a good idea on this as well. But unfortunately we have to protect our sources for the moment and divulge that little piece of information later. Let’s just say there may be a Zepp reincarnate with the addition of another name!