The few... the proud... the incredibly obsessed with that Spider-Man font. Sony Australia is opening up applications for its exclusive Facebook-based fan community, Sony X. Sony X is, in essence, Sony Australia's locally approved fan group, albeit a normally closed group. Or to put it purely in Sony's spin terms:
"Established in Australia in October 2010, Sony gives members of Sony X the opportunity to trial Sony products or hear about them before they’ve launched, as well as experience money-can’t-buy brand and product opportunities in Australia and overseas. This is also the place for Sony fans to express their opinions to help shape the future of the company."
In other words, they provide access, you provide valuable marketing data. That being said, when I went to Tokyo to preview Sony's Balance Armature headphones, Sony took along two members of the Sony X community as well, so there can be some rather solid material benefits. Sneakily, the application form also requires you to give Sony some marketing data without actually promising you'll make it into the group.
What's your take on company-led fan communities like this? On the one hand, it's clear that they can offer (carefully controlled) experiences that purely organic groups can't. On the other hand, it's not like they're going to actively question the company line. [Sony X]