Sony sends AIBO to the pound



AIBO, the robotic dog that barks, plays fetch and follows commands, is being discontinued. Sony confirmed in late January that it no longer manufactures the mutts, whose canine capers were achieved in part with MEMS sensors.

“Sony as a whole will be focusing on three core business domains: electronics, games and entertainment, with an emphasis on profitability and strategic growth opportunities,” wrote Kirstie Pfeifer, a spokesperson for Sony Electronics Inc. AIBO, with a pedigree that dates back to 1999, apparently made piddling profits even though it cost one to two grand a pup. “In light of this focus, it has been decided to discontinue the AIBO business.”

As one of the 2005 litter, this AIBO model was among the last available to buyers. Photo courtesy of Sony
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AIBO created a special breed of pet enthusiasts. Owners have formed clubs, organized races and traveled to international gatherings to show off their version of man’s best friend. To entice buyers, Sony infused more and more intelligence into the bloodline. The latest generation understands more than 100 English words as well as a smattering of Spanish.

While AIBO is headed for extinction, some of its DNA may live on. Pfeifer said Sony will continue to do research and development on AIBO’s sound recognition, visual recognition and other technologies that could be applied in future products.
- Candace Stuart