Sony’s PSP

By Ryan Sherer

Sony introduced us to the PSP in March of 2005 and would rival Nintendo’s popular DS. Sony stated from day one that the PSP would not contend with the DS because it was targeting a different audience. Gamers however have a different view of this and classify it as a handheld just as the DS. The PSP would feature Sony’s  proprietary technology, the UMD, a disc based medium encased in a plastic case. UMD technology is derivative of Sony’s failed technology the Mini disc and would be under close speculation. It would also sport a 4.3” LCD, analog stick, pro duo slot, wfi, handle various types of multimedia and interface with Sony’s Playstation 3. Anyone knows that the handheld market is tough, Nintendo has dominated this market since the inception of the original Gameboy. Companies have tried to enter this space and been pushed right back out, we have seen handheld like the Sega Game Gear, Atari Lynx, Neo Geo Pocket/Pocket Color and NEC Turbo Express. So what is Sony thinking, what has the PSP done and where will Sony take it?

Sony’s introduction state side in March of 2005 was a success, although not what Sony was hoping for the handheld sold 500,000 in the first two days. It was a premium priced handheld, launching at a price of $249.99, gamers were still skeptical. Sony found it’s handheld would sell, but not as well as Nintendo’s DS. Prices lowered on the handheld and we saw many bundles as well as hardware revisions. The PSP also saw a lot of piracy and it seemed to be a mod magnet, people were hacking it to use pirated software on as well as emulators and homebrew games. Sony fought back at the piracy and firmware hacks with multiple firmware revisions, revisions that would plague it’s users with updates almost every time they turned on their handheld. Sony first released the hardware revision known by many as the PSP 2000, this would take away the spring driven door and also the UMD cage. Users would have to sit the UMD in the drive and close the door, this also made the PSP thinner and lighter. Sony introduced it’s next revision known as the PSP 3000, it was to sport a brighter and higher resolution screen, this was not the case. PSP followers that owned multiple or were buying new to replace old were looking for the 2000 after the 3000 came to market. In late 2008 software for the PSP started to dry up and many in the publication industry feared the worst for the PSP.

E3 2009, what would Sony bring to us this year? Leaks before E3 suggested a PSP GO, a hardware revision that would remove the UMD drive and sport 16gb of flash memory. It seemed a novel idea on Sony’s part and would put them ahead in the digital download sector. Sony’s press conference would bring the announcement and Sony would joke about the leak. The details of the GO were announced with confirmation that the leaks were correct. Sony also advised that it would be smaller, sport a slide screen to hide the controls, onboard 16gb flash for storage and the standard Pro Duo slot. Sony would offer the games for digital download and users would no longer have to tote around their UMD’s. The PSP go would use a chassis from a previous Sony product, be lighter and smaller, escape the UMD drive, small flash memory and smaller screen, users were thinking maybe a lower price to go with all this……WRONG! Sony seemed to botch even this small device, this handheld would have done great at the current PSP cost or lower. Sony got greedy and announced it for the cost of what the PSP launched for, $249.99. What were they thinking, many believe this is a backlash from PS3 sales but it is not going to help Sony at all! What are your views on this, will you be buying into Sony’s stripped down PSP?