Sony's PSP2, aka NGP - Doomed from the Start? (and a quick mention of Sony Ericsson Xperia Play)

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Sony officially announced their PSP successor, code-named Next Generation Portable (NGP). Details here. As you can see, its main technical features of note are a high resolution 5" inch OLED touch screen on the front, a multi-touch pad on the back, two analog sticks, and two cameras. It also has six-axis motion sensing system similar to the PS3's controller and a three-axis electronic compass. Typical for Sony, it's another "kitchen sink" handheld, with the only notable omission being 3D, a la the Nintendo 3DS. Unlike the 3DS - and even though I'm a long-time owner of the original PSP - I'm finding little to be excited about with Sony's new handheld. The PSP failed - relatively speaking, of course - because it did nothing to distinguish itself as a portable. Sony's strategy was to offer a portable console, which many people have no interest in. There appears to be a similar strategy with the NGP. The PSP was somewhere in-between the PS1 and PS2 in terms of power, the NGP is somewhere in-between a PS2 and PS3 in terms of power. If you look at the software list from the link, it's the same types of titles you get on the PS3. While there will be the usual augmented reality and sharing features (again, just like the Nintendo 3DS), the idea of a dedicated portable like this in today's world of smartphones and tablets seems a bit counter-intuitive, and it doesn't have the 3D angle Nintendo's 3DS features. As such, I'm skeptical of the NGP's success.

Rather further under the radar is the announcement of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, an Android phone that appears to offer PSP-like gaming and some ability to run the same type of software (albeit of the lowest common denominator variety, potentially taking some of the bloom off of owning the superior gaming platform if developers target both). This strategy makes somewhat more sense in that consumer energy is really behind smartphones these days, but to my mind Sony should have done the Xperia Play AND made the PSP2 a 7" Honeycomb tablet with the full complement of gaming controls and beefed up hardware. This way they could also sub-license to Android and Honeycomb vendors "PSP-powered" gaming technology. That to me would have made a far greater impact. As it is, I think Sony is not going to make much of a dent with the Xperia Play because Android-powered smartphones (technology-wise) are a fast moving target (and phones tend to get replaced every two years anyway), and the NGP - no matter how inherently cool - is not a distinctive enough technology to pull enough people away from the 3DS and their existing (or future) smartphones and tablets, the latter two of which already make formidable modern day gaming platforms. Sorry, Sony.

Agree or disagree with my assessment? Sound off in the comments!

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Bill Loguidice
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Sony strategy and tablet strategy
Nous wrote:
Bill Loguidice wrote:

If true, this would very much be something of interest: http://www.maxconsole.net/content.php?44629&s=b8616d7d48b3a61844d5e0592e88ab1f&&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

I think it's true - the whole Playstation Suite idea seems to imply we'll be seeing things like this, and more!

Of course I don't expect this to have specs that are even half as good as the NGP. We're still waiting for a reasonably priced tablet (I define tablet as a 9-10 inch screen, large battery, etc device - because someone may argue that a 5 inch device is already almost a tablet); $599 will probably not be nearly enough for a profitable NGP-spec tablet this year.

My thinking - and the reason why I suggested a PlayStation Tablet in the first place - is that you don't necessarily NEED the power that the NGP offers. It's never been brute force tech that has won the day. Never. I would have rather seen Sony focus on the PlayStation Suite and the Android platform than give it another go with the NGP, but as a gamer and technophile, I'll certainly be keeping an eye on the NGP because that's just the nature of who I am. I just don't think it's going to take off in a big way and is certainly not the future of Sony's success in the mobile space.

I also agree about tablet size having to be greater than the 7" mark. I just don't see 7" as a good tablet form factor. I know I was personally intrigued by the recent announcement of a new Android-based tablet from a major manufacturer that accepts both touch input and pressure-sensitive pen input until I heard that it has a 7" screen. No thanks. I also 100% agree about battery life. It MUST, with no exceptions, be minimum in the 8 - 10 hour range doing reasonably heavy duty tasks, otherwise there's no point.

With all of the above in mind, I would definitely be up for this Sony tablet with regular gaming controls like the Xperia Play phone, assuming it was bigger than 7" and had the battery life. If it's 7", I'd still rather just get a bigger tablet.

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Bill Loguidice
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More details on the Sony

More details on the Sony tablet: http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/16/exclusive-sony-s1-brings-qriocity-to-...

Looks like there are no physical controls at all, though, so it's just another tablet with an intriguing built-in bulge. So I guess the only gaming part about it is that it's certified to run PlayStation Suite games. Hopefully that USB port (or via Bluetooth) can use a PS3 controller. While that negates a lot of its portability, it would make it an intriguing emulation machine as a secondary function to all the tablet stuff.

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Nous
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Price

I think the main problem with tablets right now is price. Nobody (except perhaps Apple) seems to be able to go below the $599 price point even with a semi-decent spec - nevermind a killer spec!

And I dont' think it's for lack of trying. In fact, both Samsung and LG are probably better positioned to produce a tablet cheaper than anything Sony (or anyone else - except perhaps Apple again) can do right now! Do not assume their margins are large.

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Bill Loguidice
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Personally, I think $600 -

Personally, I think $600 - $900 is fair for variable spec tablets if you have genuine uses for it, though certainly as these things become more mass produced and economies of scale work more to their favor, I would hope those prices would drop by $200 sooner rather than later.

Just saw that the Xoom tablet is not $900 - $1200, but much more realistic: http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/16/motorola-xoom-price-official-799-unsu...

I still say these tablet makes not only need to undercut Apple slightly, but also each other. There's not going to be a huge amount of differentiators tech-wise with many of these tablets other than price...

My decision gets ever more complex. I definitely want to wait to make the right decision, but I also don't want to wait TOO long.

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Nous
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Fair, but still...

$600-$900 is certainly fair, but don't expect *ANY* given model to sell 50 or 100 million units at that price point! It would take 3 years or more for ALL android tablets, *combined*, to sell 100m (I'm not including the iPad here)

That's why I didn't think it made a whole lot of sense for Sony to try to attack this market exclusively with this kind of product right now - the price and spec would place it right in the middle of a hungry pack of wolves and it would never sell in great quantity as an individual product even if it was certain to attract a few of us (gamers) by including analog sticks and buttons; not enough of a differentiating factor at THAT price point, in THIS market.

Unless you're Apple or Nintendo I think it makes more sense to adopt a multi-angle approach and see what works best; I don't think anyone can read the market right now with any degree of confidence because it's changing so fast. (and to be perfectly honest, I wouldn't be surprised if even Nintedo fails to meet sales expectations in the next 2 years)

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Bill Loguidice
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I agree, Nous, and that's the

I agree, Nous, and that's the problem with Android as a platform, it's too open, meaning ANYONE can and will release product, crowding the market and making it almost impossible to have anywhere near the type of success a single source product like the iPad can have. That's also why it wasn't necessarily a bad idea for Nokia to get into bed with Windows Phone 7 rather than Android, because they'll have an easier time distinguishing themselves, though it still doesn't mean that anywhere will care about the platform (two separate issues there).

I think that if Sony skipped the NGP and went straight to a game-specific tablet and created games specific to that tablet and were able to take a small loss at $499, while still keeping it a killer tablet, might have allowed Sony to differentiate themselves from the pack. As it is now, they're just releasing what will be the first of no doubt a series of tablets that are PlayStation Suite certified. I don't see how that's a recipe for success either.

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clok1966
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I think the open platform is

I think the open platform is a great idea, that cant seem to be exacuted well. So far its never succeded. Linux while being loved is not gaing ground, its slight bump a few years back is slowely dwindling away (not to say it wont have a resurgance again, who knows).. the closed system is backfireing on APPLE at the moment, the subsription model and the 30% in our pocket is getting the developer masses PO'ed. With the ability to still make money on other systems, some devolpers are threatning to leave the Apple nest. If they will, thats the question.. up till now it was an idle threat. With jobs at a cancer clinic, Apples stock taking a hit, Most reviews saying the Ipad2 is is just a Ipad with the numbner 2 on it, and legit Iphone compatition.. it may just be the time Apple cant hold its stance.. In fact i thought I read today they have said they will resturcture and reconsider some of the fee's...

the first chink in the armour has been exposed.. will they go in for the kill or not? I'm leaning towards NOT as nobody is ready to take advantage.

The singel biggest problem with the open source stuff is instead of eveybody using it, they are all fractureing into little braggerts.. Mine phone is better as i have this!.. make the hardware better, but standardize the SOFTWARE!!!! I want to know my android APP will run on ANY android hardware... if they (phone companies, harware makers) would understand united they win, divided they fall it might grow.. but with the fractured group right now its looking pretty iffy..
The one bright spot is Verizon getting Iphones didnt seem to make much difference.. Iphone sales where ok, but not the mass of "phone swappers" people expected, swapping teh android phones for Iphones. it sounds like it made little differnece on Android phones (which grow at an excellent pace).. about the only thing that seems to have happned is 'some" AT&T users switched to a Iphone in verizon... Again, not what was perdicted.. but it is early.

Bill Loguidice
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In response to clok

I think we won't know the true effect of the iPhone being on Verizon until the iPhone 5. I think most who wanted an iPhone 4 already got one with AT&T, and the rest of the demand was filled by the few who were up for contract or had a planned jonez for Verizon.

That fracturing is my biggest problem with Android. It's hit or miss buying the right phone or tablet with their will-it-or-won't-it-run-this-or-that and will-it-or-won't-it-received-the-latest-version-of-the-os, etc. Then there's this nonsense with Netflix - a favorite app I use on the iPhone - not available to any Android devices without a future special chip due to the DRM requirements. That could actually be a potential deal breaker to me with an Android tablet, though I'm still favoring NOT getting an iPad 2 if I can avoid it.

By the way, Apple SHOULD get push-back on the 30% for subscription-based services. That's gluttony. It should be 10 - 15% max. I have a feeling it was a carefully planned business ploy, though, because going down from 30% would look like a win for the publishers if Apple goes down lower, while Apple still keeps a good margin. Start high, end up somewhere higher than you would have had you started at the realistic number.

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Nous
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Sony cuts US PSP price to $129

Sony is cutting the price of the PSP in North America to $129.99, effective February 27.

The console will also receive another 13 new titles on the Greatest Hits Favourites range, priced at $9.99.

"The PSP system set the standard for complete portable entertainment and continues to be the premiere destination for gamers on-the-go," said Tim Bender, senior vice president of sales, SCEA.

"Nearly six years after its initial launch, demand for the PSP remains strong. This new price point enables us to broaden the PSP platform to a larger group of consumers who are looking for best-in-class handheld entertainment."

The PSP has sold more than 23 million units in the US and 67.8 million worldwide, according to Sony.

....Hmmm ... this is quite interesting, I wonder what the implications of this might be re NGP's price point!

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Bill Loguidice
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The PSPgo is now dead:

The PSP Go is now dead: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/34178/Report_Sony_Ceasing_PSP_Go_Prod...

Not surprising as Sony really bungled the launch and placement, and they have other products they're now focusing on.

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