Sony pulls out of PDA market
I'm rather surprised at this announcement, as I always considered Sony's CLIE line far superior to Palm's Pilots. However, in America, a gizmo has to have both a competitive price point to ensure success, and unfortunately for Sony, their superior feature set wasn't enough to justify the price premium. In the long run, it probably doesn't matter much, as the useful features of PDA get integrated into cell phones, and the entertainment functions of the PDA get integrated into Sony's other line of handheld devices.
Analysts cautious about Sony PSP
Since I didn't go to the show, I didn't see the Sony PSP. My thoughts are that Sony will have to do some work in order to dethrone the current king of portable video games -- Nintendo's Gameboy Advance. Coincidentally, Nintendo has ceased production on the original GBA, and is now only manufacturing Gameboy Advance SPs. My problems with the PSP is it looks a little too much like Atari's ill-fated Lynx - the first colour handheld, it retailed for $199.95, which was astronomical, compared to the $79.95 Nintendo Gameboy, and the 149.95 Sega Game Gear. The Lynx was superior technology wise, but a lack of good software titles killed it. Sony has much more support than Atari or Sega, but the high price tag of the PSP will limit consumers. As one of the potential buyers in the target age group (men 18-35 with large disposable incomes), I actually think the market is pretty limited.
Let me see if I can explain it using myself as an example:
1. I already have a Playstation 2 at home with a good library of games, a big TV, and stereo speakers. Unless I have a situation where portability is an issue, I'd much rather spend my time on my couch playing the game than just about anywhere else.
2. I have a job that requires commuting. While I imagine some people who take the bus or the train to work might find this feature useful, for most, playing and showing off a new $300 high tech gadget is a good way to be labeled as a potential victim for mugging.
3. People who have $300 to throw away for a portable video game system probably have at least one (or more) of the following: portable MP3 player, laptop computer, PDA, cell phone. The laptop, PDA or cellphone could all provide game entertainment capabilies, and the MP3 player provides an alternative entertainment option.
They call the PSP the walkman of the 21st century -- but think back to when the walkman came out -- in those days, the market for portable electronics didn't exist. These days, the competition is intense for your portable time -- there are so many options these days: laptop, pda, gameboy, cellphone, mp3 player?
I wish that someone in Sony had taken a Interface Design class before creating the PSP -- the screen sitting the center of the device, with the controls on the side create a unique handheld problem -- namely you jostle the screen as you play the game. It's much better to design controls on the bottom rather than the side, because you don't have as much screen movement. There are two other design mistakes I see. One is the lack of screen protection for the PSP, and the other is it's dimensions. It is quite tiny -- a bit larger than the size of about a candy bar style cellphone, and I wonder if the buttons will be large enough to have the tactile feel of the PS2 controllers.
1 GB Hi-MD Player on the way
Sony is also releasing a new MiniDisc Player that can store up to 1GB of music. The MiniDisc format hasn't really been popular in the states (as it has been in Asia), and MP3 players have really obliterated the portable music market. One has to wonder how successful this device will be, given the competition it faces.