Yes, Sony, You Are Competing With the iPhone

By  |  Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 5:29 pm

iphone-vs-sony-pspSony continues to insist that it’s not competing with the iPhone on gaming, even though the opposite is increasingly becoming true.

Tucked into Sony’s impressively newsworthy GamesCom press conference yesterday was an announcement for “PSP Minis,” a line of low-price, small-scale video games aimed at the upcoming PSP Go handheld. The list of planned games, including Air Hockey, Bowling and Pac-Man Championship Edition, sound a lot like what you’d find in the iPhone’s App Store.

This is a major about-face for Sony. In March, the company’s marketing VP Peter Dille derided the iPhone as a “separate business” that hosts “largely diversionary” games. He further explained that Sony is a gaming company that makes handheld games with 20-hour experiences. I guess Sony realized there’s also room for cheap and simple.

Still, the company won’t admit that it’s taking Apple on with PSP Minis. Here’s Gamasutra’s Leigh Alexander on follow-up with Playstation Network operations director Eric Lempel, who says Sony isn’t after Apple’s market share.

“It’s totally different,” Lempel told Gamasutra. “… It’s not open to users; these are professional developers, it’s not like what you’re seeing on that other platform.”

Someone needs to remind Sony’s handlers that “competition” doesn’t mean “approaching the market in the exact same way, warts and all.” This should be an opportunity for Sony to say “Yes, we are competing with Apple for handheld gamers’ money, and here’s how we’re going to take it.” Instead, Lempel seems unwilling to confront the truth head-on.

 
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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Tom B Says:

    Sony is Japanese for “no longer relevant”. Sold my SNE a few years ago, at a small profit, thankfully. Sure, the PS3 is still kicking butt, and they make great TV’s, but visionary they ain’t.

  2. vacation market Says:

    Sony now has problem with their sales around the world. PS 3 have hard competition with Xbox and Wii,and their electronic products like TV is beaten by products of Korea like Samsung and Lg.

  3. L1A Says:

    Sure they might both play games, but I don’t think they are. Unlike my iPhone, my PSP has games that actually like and play. With my iPhone i buy that dollar or so game, play it for about a day and then delete it because of lack of depth and repetitive control scheme that either makes me tilt my iPhone or blocks out 30% of my screen, because I have to touch the screen to control it. The other day I bought NFL 2010, played my game and found out that there’s no way I’d play that again over Madden 10 even if that game’s $35 cheaper. But that’s just me =)

  4. tom b Says:

    “TV is beaten by products of Korea like Samsung and Lg”

    I have a cheap Samsung phone; my wife has a cheap LG phone. Both phones are worthless junk. I will never buy again from either company. Even a company’s lowest end products are like ambassadors; if they can’t bother to add some fit and finish on the low end, they probably cut corners on the high end, too. Apple makes tiny iPod shuffles. I have no interest in these because I need more capabilties, but you can bet the products are quality and work well, as far as they go.

  5. Orenge Says:

    To L1A: there is no shortage of simple, short or even bad games on the iPhone–that’s what happens when you have tens of thousands to choose from. Use review sites to find the kinds YOU like, and consider buying games that cost more than a dollar. There are plenty of OUTSTANDING games for iPhone, offering dozens of hours of gaming. Games where not only is tilt or touch not a problem, it is in fact the best way to play–and a feature which the PSP suffers from the lack of. Some games are best with that PSP D-pad, but direct touch is awesome for others. (And the iPhone’s Internet-multiplayer-anywhere over the phone network is great–better even than iPod Touch which can only do multiplayer via WiFi or Bluetooth.)

    Plus either the iPhone or the iPod Touch is a lot more pocketable than any PSP. PSP is no fun at all if you’ve left it at home.

    The PSP is great, don’t get me wrong (if only I didn’t have to carry that PLUS a phone PLUS a music player). But the hours of fun I’ve had with Star Hogs and Defender Chronicles (RPG meets incredibly deep and varied tower defense) alone I would not give up for anything–and they’re the tip of the iceberg. Both are games that could never be as good without multitouch. Star Hogs is like Worms but in space with planetary gravity and awesome Internet multiplayer. Pinch to zoom, touch to set your angle. Defender Chronicles is RPG meets RTS… an incredibly deep tower defense that you’d barely recognize as TD. Touching your units directly is great for any RTS game–SO much better than a D-pad/joystick.

    And now that FPS games are just starting to come out for iPhone with good controls (after a ton with bad controls), it’s about to become the premiere mobile platform for that major genre. Ask anyone who plays first-person shooters on both consoles and computers, and they’ll prefer mouse aiming over an awkward Sony-stye controller. On an iPhone, with the controls done right, you use the side of screen like a trackpad–mouse-style aiming! It’s more like gaming on a laptop than on a PSP. Feels great. (But the ideal would be that PLUS a physical D-pad for strafing. And that’s coming too: the iPhone supports add-on controllers now, and they’re in the works.)

    If Sony truly ignores the MASSIVE number of people having incredible fun with iPhone/iPod games, they are in trouble.

  6. Greg Paulhus Says:

    Just an anecdotal note on Sony. We recently bought an LCD TV, and I did a ton of research and shopped around a lot, talking to sales people, tech people. Nobody recommended Sony, and many actively steered us away from buying anything Sony. Samsung was the most recommended and best reviewed brand. That was my experience anyway.

  7. Grawlix Says:

    This is symptomatic of Sony’s broader problems:

    They have become incapable of thinking holistically about their customer’s needs. They see each product as a distinct item ticking off a feature list. There is no thought for integration or customer ease-of-use. Example:
    o Playstation3′s separate, clunky interfaces for gaming, VidZone and Playstation Network.

    In fact, consumers now need to be very wary of the underhanded feature deception Sony engages in when selling product. Example:
    o The way Sony’s devices place artificial limits on interfaces – such as making Home Theatre HDMI interfaces send but not receive signals, or limiting Bravia TV Toslink interfaces transmit terrestrial TV signals but not signals from other connected devices such as Playstations or TiVos.

    They are arrogant and greedy.

    %$#@!

  8. oomu Says:

    I still thinks Sony APN (alpha 900 and 700) are good

    Sony TV are impressive (the high end)

    and the PS3 is a lot better people thinks.

    others products of sony are a mess. and yes the company has huuuge problems. It cannot think globally and about integration.

  9. Tech_Jonno Says:

    iPhone/iPod Touch are deadly stealth category killers of mobile phones [Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony-Ericsson, Motorola] & of portable gaming devices [Nintendo DSi & Sony PSP]. Also, bear in mind that the Apple Apps store business model will slowly kill off the specialized console games peripheral stores as well as the gaming department at your local departmental store. Why pay $30 to $100 for console games in the brick-and-mortar outlets when you can download games for $0.50 to $5.00 for simple games bypassing distribution, packaging, advertising and retailer costs. Apple’s gaming business model is the Version 2.0 that will be taking out the current Version 1.0 that Nintendo and Sony is so dependent on. Adios Muchachos

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