The PSP2 and the Return of Sony

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In a fluorescent-lit room in an office complex of the Minato Ward, a Sony engineer is putting the finishing touches on a prototype PSP2. Have the lessons learned from the first PSP changed the shape of the plasticine maquettes on his desk? Has the success of its competitors, the nimble, toyish Nintendo DS or the iPhone—hardly a traditional gaming device at all!—affected the chips he chooses to solder into a virtual breadboard? Will his PSP2 even see the light of day?

It’s the wrong time for Sony to launch a PSP2. The economy is the dumps. Sony has posted a $1.12 billion loss, its first in 14 years. But they must also be looking towards the future, making tough decisions about whether they should remain in the gaming space at all.

I don’t think there’s much doubt they will. Sony, after all, has never lacked for stubbornness and pride.

So what should Sony’s next portable gaming device be? A phone? An all-singing, all-dancing convergence device of the future? Or a pared down device that does gaming—and only gaming—as perfectly as possible?

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” – Win Borden, senator sentenced to 2 years and 3 months for failure to file tax returns

Sony has always had a problem with convergence, in that it does it poorly. That’s because the company, despite attempts by its latest CEO to bring the company in line, still operates as the prototypical engineer-led Japanese company, a field of silent ivory silos that rarely communicate as a whole. One division of the company might make a camera with a web browser in it, while another might make a camera for the PSP, while yet another sells cameras that connect to their laptops— none of which can actually communicate with other Sony devices. It must be a herculean challenge for a company that makes products in nearly every consumer electronics category to coordinate and executive as a collective whole, but it should not be impossible, even in notoriously regimented Japanese corporate culture. Difficulty does not excuse a failure to meet the challenge.

The problem with the PSP and the PS3 has not been that Sony made a stab at building quality convergence devices—they’ve just been trying to build too many. It’s hard to believe that you should buy a do-everything devices when the same company sells a dozen different do-everything models. Why would Sony, makers of the world’s finest Blu-ray player, bother to sell anything other than the PS3 at all?

The PlayStation 3 is nearly perfect as a set-top box, a powerful gaming machine that doubles as one of the most connected media players available. And it’s getting trashed in the market by the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii because many customers, when looking at the three units on the shelf, don’t see it as a media wunderkreiger, but instead as the least interesting gaming box of the three.Wasn’t this about the PSP?
The PSP has actually done relatively well for itself when it comes to hardware sales, with an estimated lifetime sales of around 44 million units. Think about that one for a moment: a company that has sold 44 million units of one of its premier products may still be considered by some to be failing. That’s in large part due to perception—we tend to think of the markets in broad terms, with simple winners and losers, and rarely do you see someone win as decisively as Nintendo has done with the Wii and the DS—and in part due to software sales, which in every part of the world outside of Japan, where the Monster Hunter series sees multi-million sales on the PSP, have a relatively low “attachment” rate (the number of games sold per console sold).

Nintendo has sold nearly 98 million DS handhelds in nearly the same amount of time. And there’s a surprise contender in the handheld gaming space: Apple, who has sold around 17 million iPhones, as well as several million iPod touch units, all of which are extremely capable handheld gaming machines. Attachment rates for iPhone games from the iTunes App Store are presumably high, with numbers like a million downloads a day being touted, although it’s anyone’s guess on exactly how those split between free and paid applications. Nevertheless, that Apple has created an inadvertent third mobile gaming platform has surely not been missed by Sony brass.

Closer than you’d think
Why isn’t the PSP perceived to be a success, then? Let’s consider the many ways in which it is a failure as both a convergence and a pure gaming device, and why a relatively low-powered dual-screen oddity and a phone that has effectively no buttons at all get all the attention.

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The PSP’s hardware is magnificent. I will never forget the first time I booted my launch day PSP in a cab taking me home in the early morning after an entire night spent waiting in line at Sony’s New York City launch festivities. I was prepared to be disappointed, but I warmed to the beautiful graphics from the huge, bright screen instantly. That technological frisson that every properly designed gadget attempts to provoke was unmistakable, that taste of the future that early adopters spend so much time and money trying to capture. The following weeks found me showing it off to everyone I could, all of whom were dutifully impressed, but very rarely compelled to buy a PSP themselves.

I suspect that was in part due to Sony’s inability to make products that don’t appear to be exquisite but fragile. The PSP very much feels like a stereotypical product from Japan, bedizened with buttons and switches, and even ejecting from its aluminum cradle an exotic optical disc. (Ignore that that optical disc, the proprietary, slow, and expensive UMD, was obsolesced by flash memory nearly before the PSP was even on the street.) It’s sexy in its way, but it doesn’t feel disposable: a quality welcome in previous times, but daunting in something that comes with an implicit possibility of loss.

Worse, luxury electronics, from a school of design for which Sony is in part responsible but was always a ruse in the best of times, are increasingly being seen as gussied up branding exercises borne from the same assembly lines as the “bargain” versions. People aren’t afraid to buy something cheap anymore, so long as it works, and so long as it will be easily replaced when it’s dropped in the toilet or left in a cab.

It was also too big. The PSP doesn’t fit in the pocket. It needs a case or cover to protect the screen (unlike the DS, whose cockamamie fold-in-half clamshell ended up obviating the need for armor). A device that can’t live comfortable in the front pocket of jeans is ultimately too large to be carried as part of someone’s everyday default load-out. Even the DS is slightly too large.

That vaunted and welcome 3D power that makes portable gaming on the PSP look better than any other mobile gaming system ever? It eats a lot of power. Battery life for the PSP is actually fairly good, all power drains considered, but a single standard battery won’t fill your cross-country trip with movies and games. (To be fair, battery life is an issue for nearly every modern gadget.)

And the 3D power that makes the PSP stand out was hobbled by Sony’s curious decision to include only one analog input, a rather ingenious nubbin on the left hand side of the face, making the dual-analog control scheme for 3D games—a now-standard interface that Sony themselves pioneered on the PlayStation—impossible.

UMD was slow, expensive, and literally just months from being superfluous. The future of portable media is flash memory, end of discussion, and even replaceable media like SD cards will leave the mainstream in a few years. Terribly, it had to be physically spun up to operate, another battery-taxing chore.

Because the games were so similar to home console experiences, many developers neglected to design the games with the mobile player in mind. Many mobile games are played for just seconds at a time, in snatched moments in queues and on lunch breaks. The PSP could go into a sleep mode, provided you had enough battery to keep it slumbering without slipping fully into unconsciousness, but many of the games themselves did not have save functions that could be accessed at any time. Want to stop playing your game for a bit and listen to some MP3s? Too bad—unless you want to play for another ten minutes to discover a save point.

Not that you’d want to use it as an MP3 player. Not because the PSP’s MP3 support is poor—it’s actually quite good, and as a podcast slurper it’s phenomenal—but that pesky pocket problem literally pokes its head up. And with full acknowledgement of how haughty this sounds, it’s sort of embarrassing to listen to MP3s out of something so large, like carrying around a portable DVD player so you can listen to CDs.

Video support? Fantastic—if you could encode your own movies. The movies-on-UMD plan was silly from the start by dint of pricing alone. No one wanted to pay DVD prices for movies they could only watch on a single device—without special features.

While it may seem odd already to imagine a time when devices were sold without Wi-Fi, that the PSP could use wireless networks to communicate and even browse the internet was a definite selling point in 2005. But no touchscreen and no keyboard—despite rumors for years that Sony themselves would release a QWERTY attachment—made the PSP a rather pitiful mobile computer. Baffling. With just a nice QWERTY keyboard addition, I could have done the majority of my mobile computing on the PSP years ago. Now smartphones and netbooks have closed that door behind them.

Piracy was easy, although not really easy, depending at which stage of the PSP’s life you consider. While I’m not inclined to discount piracy’s effect on sales out of hand—nor am I inclined to think there’s really all that much to be done about it—one of the surprise strengths of the powerful PSP platform ended up being its utility as one of the best retro-gaming emulation machines of all time. While anecdotes are not data, among my gamer friends a PSP is more often a portable Super Nintendo with a complete library always at hand, with more hours given to 15-year-old titles than modern ones. That may help hardware sales and doesn’t even directly hurt software sales, but it doesn’t help, either.

It’s hard to read Sony’s blustery “Games aren’t selling because of pirates” comments for the last couple years, coupled with their bizarre hardware revision choices, and not think they just got so swept up in fighting hackers and pirates that they lost site of the bigger picture.

The lack of development on the PSP is due in part to the cost of making a 3D game, a more expensive endeavor than creating the art and assets for a 2D title. With more than twice as many DS and iPhones out there owned by gamers proven to spend money, it makes more fiscal sense for a developer to bet their sweat and money on a 2D title that can, after all, still be ported to the PSP.

On their own, none of these are critical flaws. The PSP may instead be suffering death by a dozen cuts.

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Stronger, better, smaller, faster, something, something, everything
Here’s what the next PSP should be: an iPhone with buttons.

Sure, it can be slightly wider, but only by millimeters, not centimeters. Same goes for thickness to accommodate shoulder buttons and the largest battery Sony can cram inside. But it should be an attempt at the ultimate convergence device for Sony, one that take all the same risks that Sony tried to make with the original PSP, but going even further. So much further, in fact, that it would shake the fundamental way Sony has sold products in the past.

The next PSP should be a fantastic point-and-shoot camera and camcorder.

The next PSP should be a top-quality GPS unit for both pedestrians and drivers. (Without buying an additional module.)

The next PSP should have a touchscreen.

The next PSP should have accelerometers and a compass.

The next PSP should come with a great web browser.

The next PSP should be offered in two flavors: one with a phone inside, one without.

The next PSP should be able to download and purchase games over-the-air via 3G or Wi-Fi, saved to copious internal flash memory. (Something the current PSP is finally seeing in part through the PlayStation Network, but perhaps Sony should abandon retail entirely. It’s worked for the iPhone, Gamestop and Wal-Mart be damned.)

The next PSP should be Sony’s best mobile gaming device. (Although it need not be much more powerful computationally than the current PSP.)

The next PSP should cost $500—or $200 when subsidized by wireless carrier.

Luck never gives; it only lends.
Sony needs to go all in. Convergence is a bear. A bear that, when you’ve just about wrestled it into submission, grows another couple of arms holding pico-projectors and a WiMAX chip. But it’s where gadgets are going, like it or not, and while it may take another decade or two for all of the aspects to come into their own (see: the iPhone’s horrible but heavily used camera) the opportunity exists for companies to rise to the challenge of making miraculous do-everything magic pocket lumps.

If anyone has the engineering talent to do it, it’s Sony. But they’ll have to change the way the company works, forcing product groups to march in step—or at least communicate. Can you imagine the product that Sony could make if even a quarter of their engineers dropped all the dabbling and worked on a single product together? Sure, they might only be able to release eight car stereos this year instead of ten, but somehow I think they’d be able to keep sales up across every category.

This isn’t out of reach for Sony. In fact it’s already in their blood—the company that makes the Vaio P isn’t afraid to try to make products that straddle category boundaries. (Nor are they afraid to charge twice as much as their competitors to do so.) But Sony, like so many other successful organizations, has become victim to their own illusions of their strengths, thinking they could grow only laterally. That may work with televisions and amplifiers, but it’s not going to cut it in the fight to become the one thing people keep in their pocket at all times.

So while I know there are PSP2 prototypes on little pedestals all throughout Sony right now, I sincerely hope they exist outside of the gaming division and instead are spread throughout the entire company. Some of the world’s best engineers work at Sony—it’s time to make them work together.

Photo: afsilva

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28 Responses to The PSP2 and the Return of Sony

  1. Rodney says:

    Or:
    What could you do with an all-screen device the size of a nano? It has a camera, wireless and a microSD slot. You have to sell it for $199 and the games have to be mind-blowing.

  2. mgfarrelly says:

    What’s turned me off Sony products is how you feel forced into future-proofing, and dodgy future-proofing at that. Yes, Blu-Ray is great, but anyone with an inkling of media knowledge knows that downloads/streaming is the next step beyond DVD, and that Blu-Ray is intermediary, and bloody costly, at best.

    The Xbox, for all it’s issues, plays games and does it well at a decent price. 600 bucks for an omni-consumer item stuffed with things I will never need or use is silly.

    Add to that, Sony’s, well, hubris. The ads for their products are ridiculous, never seem to highlight what it is and what it does and why I should buy it. The onion savagely lampooned them for this, the finest comedy having quite a bit of truth in it.

  3. RedShirt77 says:

    @#19 Beanolini

    “As someone who’s worked on games for…”

    Is there someone at sony you can forward a link to this discussion to?

  4. TJ S says:

    I think the recent Onion video said it all. Sony is great at putting out stupid, over-engineered yet crippled, too long in development devices.

    Sony seems to be a company that over, rather than underthinks their products.

  5. Jenonymous says:

    Due to having wonderful, generous friends, I own a PS2, PS3, a Wii, and a DS. I like all of them, but the “flavor” of each platform is totally different.

    First of all, I think that Sony did a very stupid thing by killing PS2 backward-compatibility in the later models of PS3. I bought the 80gig Metal Gear Solid pack which has hardware backward-compatibility, and even THAT sucks somewhat to the point where I’m re-thinking my decision to give away my old PS2 (for most games I get a persistent diagonal line across the screen). I have a load of PS2 games, including some that I haven’t even gotten to yet (have a pal who did marketing for a number of titles and literally had crateloads to give away 18 months after release/cooldown). Shooters and fight games–my faves–really come to life on the PS2 and PS3, and the back catalog of PS2 games has some real hidden gems.

    Having said that, I LOVE the graphics and the gameplay on the PS3 AND the PSP. Patapon and LocoRoco are truly reasons enough on their own to own a PSP.

    BUT Wii and the DS both are much easier to set up and just play with for little short fun bursts, and the DS IS built like iron. As I tend to destroy things, I got a cheap little Nerf fatshell for it, which is very well made and only cost $8 as opposed to my $20 Logitech case for my PSP, which is essential for the latter or it would be scratched all to buggery or broken by now. Perhaps this is partially because the DS has so many “kid oriented” titles while the PSP has almost none? Also let me add that the battery life on my DS is at least 5x that of my PSP.

    If you really want to get rantacious on Sony, ask me about my Vaio. I got one refurbed for “cheap” (for back in the day when the Vaio was the tiniest laptop out there; I feel like an ass for paying what I did then right now in the age of EEEs) and I was just astonished about how much proprietary crapola they loaded down what was supposed to be a lightweight machine with. As in the thing has only 1 gig of DRAM, and forcing all of this shit to load just slowed it down. It took me forever to decrappify and uninstall all of the stuff that I didn’t want (like a constant nag screen to buy a Blu-Ray copy of Casino Royale which would entitle me to some free screensaver or other crap). It’s like they were pimping out this beautiful little laptop to sell the Blu-Ray platform, everything else be damned.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sony saw it wasn’t working — so they called in an American, Howard Stringer, since it was an American that taught them 60 years ago.

    Stringer (marketer, people person) had a conflict with Kutagari (engineer, data person) and fired him.

    Result:
    Already disorganised engineering culture became hopelessly fragmented, and Sony loses all chance to be the technological leader they were, several times in their history.

  7. strider_mt2k says:

    The simplest thing they could do is declare the war on Homebrew developers over. (and that they lost)

    Open the thing up to tinkerers and enthusiasts and just watch how you can get a couple more hunts out of this dog.

  8. EyeSpy Guy says:

    Sony is like a hot girlfriend who keeps trying to run my life.

    Perky, athletic and stunning. She keeps setting conditions on my interactions with her charms.

    Me: “Honey, you are wonderful. Lets make out.”
    Her: “Well, I don’t know. I’d like to… but you have to mow the lawn first, then we can only kiss in the dark. Hands behind your back!”

    There can’t be any doubt that she has intense control issues. She wants to control everything I do, and sometimes that isn’t so bad, but damn she is expensive! Often, when I wake up early, to make her breakfast the ways she likes it I find myself thinking: “It is going to be this way for the _rest_of_my_life_.” I just can’t face it.

    Why is Sony so obsessed with controlling how people use their products? She can’t see how harmful her obsession with media lock in, or her outright hostility to the mod community, who she equates with pirates.

    About half the wish-list for the PSP2 could have been achieved by a robust system to tether the PSP2 to the a Sony phone. Keyboard? Camera? GPS? 3G? Dual Screen? Check! I’m sure dot 11 is up to the task. Move the camera functionality from the phone to the PSP2 and use tether to the phone to extend functionality. Your PSP2 becomes a touchscreen phone and 3G web browser while you have a phone on your person.

    It would be really nice if Sony would collaborate with customers to discover new, flexible ways to use and interact with their products instead of using pretty toys and shiny treats as a lever to manipulate and control my spending forever. For me, she is a pretty ex, who was better viewed from afar than as a life partner, however cute she is in photos.

  9. RedShirt77 says:

    “Sony need to make the next PSP really easy to program for. Period.”

    A few nice peripherals are probably a good idea, but you are largely right. It needs a touch screen, but by the time this comes out I will probably have a camera in my wrist watch, and I use a real camera to take a picture, so who cares?

    PS1 and PS2 made money for a few simple reasons.

    1. Simple sturdy design
    2. Lots of titles for PS1 and an ocean of titles for the PS2.
    3. Backward compatibility

    If they make any of their new systems hard to program for they need to make them backward compatible and have online arcade and download features for ports of old games.

  10. MichaelFoody says:

    It’s a shame the ps3 has lost the console war. I think it just seems like a much better machine than the 360 quieter, sturdier, better thought out. As a piece of hardware it’s hard to find fault with it. It isn’t even actually more expensive since it has free online and wireless. It’s selection of games isn’t that much worse either, xbox 360 has 54 games above 85 and ps3 has 39 games above an 85 on metacritic. I’d probably get one if it had netflix streaming.

  11. RedShirt77 says:

    I have both a PS3 and an xbox, but almost never played the PS# until I recently got Little Big Planet. And I must say that except for the fact that the PS3 downloads a software update once a week, the thing keeps striking me as beasutiful. From the Orchestral chimes when it first comes on to the simple wireless access, free online services, and beautiful graphics on games and blu-ray player. And every time I go back to the Xbox, I think, what a piece of shit. From the loud almost screaming disk drive to the expensive and glitchy web service and the overly expensive things like wireless cards that just get it approaching the PS3’s capabilities.

    But Sony sits still, unable to move its product because it is too expensive and they haven’t sold enough of them to really inspire developers. And now I hear rumors of the PS3 being abandoned.

    Sony’s attempt to squeeze the kitchen sink into a PS3 are sure folly. And when you bought the downgraded units, they removed things like backwards compatibility and hard drive space. What foolishness is that!

    If I am going to spend money on the thing that has few games out for it, it should have some ports to plug in my PS2 controller or Rock band guitar and be able to play my favorite PS2 games.

    I also have the PSP, but they were so foolish to try and curtail the hackers, instead they should have upgraded with a touch screen, accelerometer and a speedy wireless card that can have you buying games and aps online. How about some hand held netflix!

    I agree with the everything they say here, Sony shoots for the moon every time and makes some amazing deveices, I just think they misread the market and the practical applications of how people will use their products. They then try to sell us their impractical products in ads that tell us nothing about what the product does.

  12. beneditor says:

    I’m sure progamming was an issue, and the proprietory formats it loves so much (I’m a broadcast pro, and prop. formats are starting to kill Sony there as well – XDCAM anyone? anyone?) are a nuisance. But all of these issues have been overcome in reality on the PS3 – and could have been on the PSP, as the iphone proves (it has NO buttons).

    I can’t help thinking that the PS3 and PSP were killed by bad marketing. Nintendo sold the DS on a lifestyle AND a style, successfully marketing it at adults (remarkably) thanks to Brain games and so on. Why did they fail to sell the PS3 as a media centre AT ALL?

    I can remember very few ads for the PS3 or PSP, but mostly they were obtuse, arty, marketing bullshit that connected with no one.

    Sony was unable to counter the XBox-is-cheaper argument despite the fact that it’s bunk. Add in wireless, chargers for controllers and a ridiculous online fee (albeit for a slighly better thought out service) and there’s little in it. That’s without factoring in Blu-Ray. Who would have thought Sony would win the HD war, and lose the console one, when Blu-Ray was the common cause in both?

    Sony have become a poster-child for disfunctional multinational tech companies, and I fear unless things change at the top, they can do little to recover, if recent products are any indication.

  13. smalltimore says:

    great post, Joel. While I have bought a few games, the majority of my time is spent with the emulators. After you experience the quality of some of the homebrew apps (PSPseq and PSPrhythm especially), it’s depressing to think of how much better the platform could have done with some type of official app store.

  14. Tahiri says:

    I disagree with this article completely. You make remarks like UMD was obscolete before it came out. It STILL isn’t obsolete. They don’t make memory sticks large enough to fit a decent amount of games. Yes you can load 1 or 2 games to a memory stick, but the attach rate is at 6. At 1.8 gigs are you suggesting everyone buy 16 GB memory sticks? And then what, now for their portable system they need a PC to install the game? Or spend 2 days downloading it on 3G? Canada gets a 6 GB a month quota. No one wants to spend 1/3 of that on one game. Or spend hours on Wifi where they can’t use their system either? People don’t want to install games. 50% of the continent doesn’t even have broadband. You CANT make a system depend on an internet connection.

    Flash can’t replace UMD till we can get 64 GB extremely cheaply. And as it stands it costs less than a dollar for them to make a UMD.

    As for Sony making cameras and having a camera attachment for PSP. How are they supposed to talk to each other? The PSP attachment is only 1.3 megapixels. It’s not meant to replace a real camera. What do you want from them? The cameras just record pictures/videos to files on their storage devices.

    Sony has no problem with convergance. They do it extremely well. You even admitted PS3 is an awesome media center.

    I don’t want PSP2 taking ANY hints from DS’s or iPhone’s hardware. Both are the complete opposite of what PSP is and what I want it to be. People who bought a PSP bought it cause it’s a PSP, and not a DS. Though I would love it if PSP allowed homebrew like PS3/iPhone.

    PSP may not have built in armor, but neither did any other handheld before the GBA SP. Neither does the iPhone or most PDAs. You complain it’s too big, yet adding a flip screen would make it even larger.

  15. RedShirt77 says:

    Also, the PSP2 should plug into the PS4 like an IPod Docking station and you should be able to play it on the big screen, music and games.

    Alright, enough ranting.

  16. webmonkees says:

    My favorite summary of Sony comes from a friend in the broadcast biz:

    “How do you spell ‘proprietary’?”

    S-O-N-Y.

  17. Beanolini says:

    As someone who’s worked on games for PC, PS1, PS2, XBox, Gamecube, PSP, XBox 360, Wii, and PS3;

    I have a deep and abiding hate for the PSP. Even by Sony standards it was horrible to develop for. The API aimed to have a simple OpenGL-style interface that would do everything for you, and failed miserably. Its attempt at multi-threading was a joke.

    It did have a nice screen, though.

  18. spazzm says:

    Sony’s problem is not engineers, it is beancounters.

    Instead of using any of the available memory card standards, they created their own, proprietary, one. That way, memory cards for Sony products cost twice as much as comparable cards for other brands. (They’ve stopped doing this now, thankfully).
    The APIs for their products (e.g. the Aibo) was only available on an obscure site, written in Japanese, where you had to hop through hoops and sign away your first-born child to download a binary file. No source code.
    The Aibo was deliberately designed so that it could only accept a proprietary WiFi card, 802.11b only. And, you guessed it, it cost twice as much as any other WiFi card.

    This is the sort of crap that heightens development cost, prevents interoperability and pisses off developers.

  19. Tahiri says:

    “but anyone with an inkling of media knowledge knows that downloads/streaming is the next step beyond DVD, ”

    Not for another 10 years at least. ISPs cap bandwidth too low for streaming to even come close to bluray’s quality any time soon. Bluray makes streaming look like youtube videos

    “600 bucks for an omni-consumer item stuffed with things I will never need or use is silly.”

    PS3 costs $400, not $600. And you would use everything it has to offer.

    “If I am going to spend money on the thing that has few games out for it, it should have some ports to plug in my PS2 controller ”

    You can buy $10 adapters for that

    “instead they should have upgraded with a touch screen”

    No no no no no.

    “it’s depressing to think of how much better the platform could have done with some type of official app store.”

    It has one. Has for ages.

    “The problem with the PSP is that it’s games require almost as many developer resources as a PS2 title, but a DS title requires like 1/4 the resources.”

    PSP games actually require about half of the PS2. And of course it requires more than the DS, it’s 3D card is actually high quality, and can play games of up to 1.8 Gigabytes versus DS’s 256 megabytes (average of 32 megabytes)

    “The problem Sony has always had is that their stuff is hard to write software for”

    That’s PS3. PSP is actually easier to program for than the DS (first hand experience) PSP is literally as easy to develop for as PS1.

    “Instead of using any of the available memory card standards, they created their own, proprietary, one”

    Which made it cheaper for them to use, and was many times faster than the alternatives at the time.

    “The APIs for their products (e.g. the Aibo) ”

    The Aibo was only available in japan. So how is that an issue?

    “Why is Sony so obsessed with controlling how people use their products? ”

    You mean, why is Sony so obsessed with stopping people from stealing games? Because if you want developers to keep making games, they need security. They need to feel we’ll pay for their games. Sony keeps telling you piracy is hurting PSP. Well it is. Get that through your head and you’ll understand why Sony blocks piracy. They don’t care about homebrew, they’d let us use if they could. They did for PS3, PS2, and PS1.

    “I’d probably get one if it had netflix streaming.”

    You can pay a one time fee of $30 for PlayON which lets PS3 do netflix.

    “I have a deep and abiding hate for the PSP. Even by Sony standards it was horrible to develop for”

    As someone who developed for PSP, it’s the easiest system to develop for since the PS1.

    “Its attempt at multi-threading was a joke.”

    Howso? You’re given 2 separate processors and full access to both. What would you have preffered?

  20. jtegnell says:

    So what’s with quoting words of wisdom from a guy whose claim to fame is being convicted of tax evasion?

  21. grimc says:

    a powerful gaming machine that doubles as one of the most connected media players available.

    I think you’ve got that backwards. The PS3 is one of the most connected media players available that doubles as a gaming machine.

    I can’t find the quote, but a year or two after launch the president of SCE was asked about the limited number of titles and low sales compared to competitors, and his response was that the PS3 was designed and intended to be a media center first, a gaming machine second. I think he also hinted that a true gaming successor to the PS2 was in development, or at least in the plans.

  22. Agies says:

    If Sony makes another all-in-one device they are going to get stomped by Nintendo again. They make these things to sell software but if they do everything else and play games then it reduces attach rates and consequently turn off developers. The only way that this stands a chance of working is if Sony stops taking losses on the initial hardware sales and even then I can’t see an all-in-one device making more than a razor-thin profit margin. They need to be able subsidize the hardware with software sales. Sales as a phone probably won’t cut it. You can point to the iPhone all you want but in the big picture it owns a very small percentage of the market and owes a decent portion of that to it’s rabid fan-base. Few people want to spend $200 on a phone or $500 on a handheld gaming system.

  23. The Souljourner says:

    The problem with the PSP is that it’s games require almost as many developer resources as a PS2 title, but a DS title requires like 1/4 the resources.

    Throwing everything into the PSP2 to make it a superior device is not the answer. It’s already a superior device, and that’s not helping it.

    The problem Sony has always had is that their stuff is hard to write software for. Nintendo makes it so much easier. And that’s where success lies – in the software other people make for your device.

    Sony need to make the next PSP really easy to program for. Period. Making it do everything and cost $500 is dumb. They did that with the PS3 and it didn’t help. The PS3 rocks, but it’s difficult to program for, so there’s just not the depth of games there.

  24. salcan says:

    I’m not sure that Sony could ever pull it off, or fight that same DNA that made them use the UMD or the Memory Stick in the first place, but that was nice piece of writing. Here’s hoping that someone at Sony notices…

  25. Anonymous says:

    Where is the image on the imagined prototype from? Is it a movie? A game?

  26. Anonymous says:

    you pretty much described the idou, sony ericsson’s new phone. it’s touchscreen, has wifi, gps, 12.1 megapixel camera, it’s a phone, can play games, music, videos, an acceleromoter and is pretty.

  27. Anonymous says:

    It’s a perfect example of a Japanese company producing a product for it’s local market. Foreign markets are considered afterwards.
    The engineers from several different departments will never all simultaneously work together because of internal politics.
    It’s intrinsic to the structure of the company and indeed to the society from which the company was born.
    Western ideals and “common sense” just don’t work over here. They mess with the Wa.

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