March 30, 2005

FA Rant: Sony PSP Rant and the Killer Video iPod Strategy by Rendition

Sony launched the PSP last week to much fan-fare, but it looks like the launch has been tepid by any standards. Hardcore gamers snarfed up the hardware in most metropolitan areas on day one, however there seems to be plenty of supply out there in more rural areas and mid-size cities. This is the result of lack of national marketing, a non-Christmas launch, and the scam that is called the Value Pack.

Value pack? I don't think so. More like pad-our-margins-as-much-as-we-can-by -ripping-off-the-consumer-pack. Making the package $249 by ramming down our throats a Spiderman 2 UMD movie, a case, 32 MB memorystick, a strap, and headphones is poor move. The market is responding with anecdotal data-points of in-stock inventory at the Best Buys, Walmarts, and Circuit Citys out there. Moreover what's with the $49 dollar pricing for some of the games? Don't tell me development costs for porting over old PS2 games require that price-point. Early first adopters are your friends, don't try to rip us off ok?

Never mind that it seems over half of the PSPs out there have dead pixel defects on the LCD screen, that the headphone sound quality is horrid, and the case reportedly scratches the PSP, you can see why some people are a little miffed. It doesn't help things when a Sony executive says because of strong demand the company will not lower prices for the rest of 2005 for the PSP and the PS2. Sony, we want a choice to buy a PSP without the extra crap. Also please let users exchange their dead pixel PSP for a "new" one without having to wait 2 weeks as according to the latest Sony exchange guidelines. And no, dead pixels isn't a feature as written in the infamous page 13 of the PSP manual.

All that being said, there is a lot going for it. The technical hardware horsepower is a marvel, a needed boost over the lackluster lets-re-port-our-old-console-technology we've been acclimated to from Nintendo. The screen is amazing and with good headphones, so is the sound and music. There seems to be some decent launch titles like Wipeout, Ridge Racer, and Lumines. And Sony definitely chose a good spokesmodel in the PSP girl (the poor man's supermodel with a lisp). Because of all this, I will give Sony a freebie. A drop dead strategy that will make all the iPod-as-next-generation-Walkman envy disappear, well almost.

Sony read my words carefully. You have the hardware, you can make the software. Create a video iPod and video iTunes ASAP. Create an easy to use end-to-end experience, where you can download TV shows for $1 an episode using a carbon copy of iTunes user interface and simple synchronization from PC to PSP. You kind of get inklings and the potential form the site, but put it into high gear. Do it now before Apple comes and eats your lunch.

Notice how I said TV shows, not movies. Without a large hard-drive, there simply isn't enough space to download movies onto an affordable memory stick. TV shows would be perfect for the commute to work and the size constraints of an affordable memory stick. Of course that means acquiring and using TV show content libraries, but if Steve Jobs can do it with music, why coundn't one of largest consumer electronic media companies in the world? Your move, Sony. Use my advice and all the world's riches will once again be yours. Well almost. [Discuss]