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December 17, 2005

Sony PSP a stolid success in North America

The Sony PlayStation Portable may be the Rodney Dangerfield of handheld entertainment since it “gets no respect” compared to the iPod, but it still seems to be a solid, if stolid, hit. Lisa Baertlein at Reuters:

Sony Corp. is on track to double the number of PlayStation Portable video game players sold in North America to around 6 million at the end of its first holiday season this year.

The sharp screen on the paperback-sized video game device has won over movie fans, fortifying a solid debut though not a runaway success along the lines of Apple Computer Inc.’s iPods.

Analysts predict that the PSP’s long-term prospects are good, but where the iPod is praised for its stunning ease of use, some PSP players have told Reuters that games are slow to load on the device and that its left thumb-operated mini joystick can be awkward to master.

“Clearly there is not the intoxication or hysteria that there is with the iPod,” said Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey, who is among those betting on the PSP’s success.

The PSP was launched in N. America in March 2005 and 6 million in the first year isn’t shabby at all. I think the impression that it is merely a handheld gaming device, when in fact it is a general purpose audio and video player as well, detracts from its visibility as an iPod competitor. The retail price of approx. $250 may also be a problem according to the analysts mentioned in the article although, again, that’s in comparison with handheld game machines like the approx. $130 Nintendo DS. There are also complaints that getting your audio and video content on the system could be much easier, but Sony is happy for you to buy movies on the proprietary Universal Media Disc which is becoming more common.

Some reviews:

ZDNet/CNET says audio and video usability could be better.

CNET has minireviews of several games

PC Magazine loves the 4.3″ TFT LCD screen as does most everybody. Dislikes the proprietary Sony media formats and the lack of audio/video features.

See also The Gadgeteer and DesignTechnica.

Posted at 9:27 am. Filed under Apple, Brands, Companies, iPod, Portable Gaming, PSP, PSP, Sony

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