There’s always risk in innovation. When you’re creating a new product or service there’s always the chance that nobody will want what you’re creating. Similarly whatever you end up creating could very well end up grating against the current norms in such a way that your product is almost wholly rejected by those its aimed at. A great example of this, which I covered in the past, was Windows Vista. In order for Microsoft to move ahead into the future they had to break away from some of their old paradigms and this drew the ire of many of their loyal customers. The damage that was done there is still being felt today with slower adoption rates of their latest product but had it not been for this initial failure they may not have been enjoying the level of success that Windows 7 has today.
In fact many pioneering products and services were first faced with dismal (albeit, mostly profitable) reception initially. Steam was a great example of this, debuting back in a time where broadband penetration numbers in many countries wasn’t particularly great and sought to deliver all games digitally direct to the consumer. Couple this with the fact that they were cutting out the publishers and distributors in the process the guys at Valve faced an extremely long, uphill battle in order for their platform to gain dominance. Still three years later they started to get big titles releasing on their platform and the rest, as they say, is history.
Interestingly enough I began to notice similar things happening with the Playstation Portable. Whilst the next version of the handheld, the NGP, is not going to be a digital only download device Sony has recently said that all games will be available digitally with only the bigger titles coming to the physical world:
“One thing we learnt from PSP, is that we want to have simultaneous delivery in digital and physical for NGP. Just to clarify that, all games that appear physically will be made available digitally, said House. He added, “Not necessarily all games have to be made available physically. And having the option of a digital-only method affords more creative risk-taking, and that’s because you don’t-have that in-built risk of physical inventory.”
For those who follow Sony you’d be aware of the dismal failure that was the PSP Go. Debuting at an insanely high price (costing just a hair below a full PS3) whilst offering little in the way of improvements the PSP Go was never going to be a phenomenal success. However it was particularly hampered by the lack of compatibility with its current gen brethren, doing away with the UMD drive in favor of a fully digital distribution model. This annoyed PSP customers to no end because their current collection of games could not be migrated onto the new platform (other than through nefarious means). Looking at the NGP there’s no way to get UMD games onto it but since most people are already aware that their current UMD titles will not have a format transition to the new platform they’ve avoided doing the same amount of damage to their next generation handheld as they did to the PSP Go.
Failure teaches you where you went wrong and where you should be heading in order to avoid making such mistakes again. Many successful products have been built on the backs of dismal failures, just look at satellite phones and radio for example. Sometimes it requires a risk taker to pave the way forward for those who will profit from the endeavor and hopefully that risk taker gets some of the kudos down the line. Digital distribution is one of those such areas where path has already been beaten and even some of the pioneers are continuing to profit from it.
In a very eerie concidence with my post yesterday about being an early adopter of Sony’s technology it seems that there’s been a “leak” of the new kid on the block, the PSP Go. There’s a couple places talking about it and here’s what they have to say:
Look up there, folks. That’s the future of Sony’s hopes and dreams in the handheld gaming sector. With just hours to go before the company’s official E3 2009 press event, it looks like the pieces are all coming together. First a UMD-less game release, then a highly credible mole giving the PSP Go a name, and now — live action shots. The images here were sourced from an obviously slipped June 2009 Qore video, and aside from giving us a look at the slider-based system (which, let’s be honest, looks a ton like the questionably successful mylo), we’re also told that it’ll tout 16GB of internal memory, built-in Bluetooth and an undisclosed memory slot. If all goes well, it’ll ship this Fall for a price to be determined, and it’s actually not slated to replace the PSP-3000, as both of ’em will attempt to live on store shelves harmoniously… at least for awhile. Oh, and don’t worry — we’ll be on hand in LA to bring you all the impressions we can muster early next week.
[Via PlayStation Forums, thanks Matt and A1]
Update: Video is now after the break! Thanks adizzy615!
Update 3: A few more official specifications are flowing from the full Qore video (pardon the sync issues). Here’s the dirt:
- 3.8-inch display (resolution is undisclosed)
- 43 percent lighter than the PSP-3000
- 16GB of Flash storage
- Bluetooth built-in; supports handset tethering and BT headsets
- No UMD drive
- Memory Stick Micro slot
- New Gran Turismo, Little Big Planet and new Metal Gear Solid (!) on the way
- Full PlayStation Network support (movie and TV rentals / purchases)
- Integration with PlayStation 3 (works the same as the PSP-3000 does)
- Sony views each of its products as “10-year lifecycle products,” so the PSP “needs to live on.”
Probably one of the most interesting developments is Sony’s dropping of the UMD format from the new device in favour of large internal storage. Now whilst I’m a dribbling moronic fan boy when it comes to all things Sony I can’t say I was too impressed when they decided to release yet another media format for their handheld console. I mean sure I can understand the memory cards (at least I can use them in other Sony stuff) but the UMD was just another format that didn’t need to exist and of course one of the most popular homebrew apps are ISO loaders. Granted there will be a majority of users out there who use that to pirate games but anyone can tell you that loading your game onto your memory stick improves battery life, reduces load time and saves you the hassle of carrying around those annoying discs. I’m glad Sony has wised up on that one.
With the removal of the drive and the addition of Bluetooth and a larger display it does make this upgraded PSP a pretty attractive purchase to someone like me. When the PSP slim came out I didn’t buy one because it was pretty debatable how much I would gain from going to such a device. This one on the other hand has things I can’t get in my current PSP (now almost 4 years old as well) so it’s pretty much guaranteed I’ll get one. Hopefully they do some awesome integration with it so that I can use it in certain games, but that’s up to the developers of course.
Now onto the leak itself. Colour me sceptical but whilst everyone is saying this was a slip up I can’t really see it that way. There’s always a lot of buzz and hype when it comes that time every year for E3 (even though it’s had a severe decline in the recent years due to it’s “reorganisation”) and the easiest way to make sure you’re talked about at the show is to release some details early so that the press will want to report on that to do the old confirm/deny/opinion piece. The amount of information that we’ve been fed by this leak is pretty substantial so there’s not going to be any rush to report on Sony’s next big handheld so what we’ll see instead will be the hands-on reports and possibly some videos of it running. I can’t help but feel that this was an attempted leak gone a little too far, killing some of the buzz that it would have seen at E3.
But then again I’m a cynical person when it comes to these things. Until I see the big corporations huffing and puffing and trying to blow the houses down of the people who leaked the photos/specs/videos I don’t believe that it really was a leak. Sony confirmed all the details shortly after the leak as well, raising my eyebrow even further.
Still it looks like a good evolution of the PSP handheld and with mine tickling the 4 year mark you can bet that I’ll be looking to get one of these to have a fiddle with in the future.