When the PSP was first shown at E3 2004, I don’t think there was one person that didn’t think Sony’s new marvel would be a huge success. A small footprint, PlayStation 2 quality graphics, a rich feature set and a beautiful widescreen display. It was beyond sexy. During the same E3, Nintendo debuted their Nintendo DS prototype which looked like a clunky mess next to Sony’s beautiful PSP. I personally thought PSP would stomp all over the Nintendo DS, but we all know how that turned out, don’t we?
While Sony has released a number of new models improving on the screen, battery life, size and weight of the PSP, the company is planning on releasing their most radical PSP design this Fall –PSP go The smallest and lightest version of the PSP, PSP go forgoes the UMD drive for downloadable games but adds 16GB of internal storage, Bluetooth support, and more.
But, does anyone care? I sure as hell don’t.
Let me back up for a moment. I used to be a big advocate of the PSP. If I compared how much time I've spent with the PSP versus the Nintendo DS, I've probably spent more time with PSP. I imported a PSP shortly after the Japanese launch due to extreme excitement for the system. I used to travel extensively back then, and there wasn’t a flight that I was on that was completely dominated by Lumines and gobs of television shows I ripped to a memory stick. Not only that, but you could easily hack the PSP and do plenty of nifty (and not really legal) things with the PSP. I loved the system.
Sony did quite a few things really well with the PSP. The PSP was extremely versatile. There were constant updates for firmware, and even though it was mainly to skirt pirates and hacks, it brought numerous improvements -- RSS, Skype and Remote Play to watch media that’s stored on a PS3. Plus, the PSP already has downloadable PS1 and PSP games. Some pretty innovative stuff.
Now, I have a huge UMD library and gigs of memory sticks lying around. I have a ton of PSP accessories, and have actually upgraded my PSP to the latest version. Personally, I don’t see myself champing at the bit for a new version of the PSP. It's smaller and lighter, but all the crap I already have – minus the headphones – won’t work with the PSP go. Sony still hasn’t revealed if or how current UMD games will be transferable to the PSP go. Plus, PSP go utilizes Memory Stick Micro as it’s secondary storage format. Super. Sony’s been known for their ridiculous proprietary formats before – Mini Disc, Memory Stick, UMDs – but now it’s like they made the whole PSP go platform proprietary. Nice work, jerks.
If I were Sony, I would have released an all-new PSP -- or the PSP 2.0 that everyone wants. Beef up the processing, throw an OLED screen at it. Make it smaller and lighter like the PSP go, but backwards compatible with UMDs and PSP accessories. There’s a reason Nintendo does backwards compatibility – it makes people happy and extends game libraries. Oh, and for the love of God, add a freakin’ second analog stick. Give us a touchscreen, too, so iPhone ports can be possible.
Sony is really milking the lifespan of the PSP, but a portable’s lifespan isn’t really as long as a full fledged console. People want the newest and slickest tech in their pockets. Whether it’s the Nintendo DSi, or the many iterations of the iPod or iPhone, people will pony up for it. And as iPhone sales prove, it doesn’t matter how much people have to shell out – they’ll pay a premium to have the latest tech.
If Sony believes that the PSP’s lifespan will be ten years, as they did with the PlayStation or PlayStation 2, they’re going to completely fail in the portable space. Sony’s been getting their asses beat by Nintendo already, and now Apple is gaining serious ground with the iPhone and iPod Touch. Unless Sony goes back to the drawing board and seriously rethinks their portable strategy quickly, they might as well call it quits after their first portable effort is finished.