The new Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) is receiving rave reviews. It has an 11cm wide display, with superb graphics and comes in a lightweight, well designed skin. There will be a great many games available for it, since it is in the PlayStation family. It has Wi-Fi capability, for multi-player games, either with other PSP’s or via a wireless connection to the Internet. It is also an MP3 player, with great stereo sound (via headphones), and an impressive five hour battery life. With everything that Sony knows about game consoles, it seems a sure winner.
But Sony does not understand (maybe never has) the connection economy.
Since the abortive days of the Betamax, when Sony attempted to go it alone with its own video recording standard, Sony seems to make the same dumb mistake over and over again. Their PSP, for example, is a great movie player — if you like Sony movies. The PSP can only play movies from a special Sony mini-DVD type disc in a proprietary design which Sony calls a Universal Media Disc (UMD). Nobody else uses this format, and it’s unlikely that other studios will adopt it. Sony has no plans to offer recordable UMDs, and the PSP has no hard drive and only has a very small capacity for loading video clips onto the inbuilt memory card. The same problem occurs when considering music. The PSP only supports MP3 and Sony’s own ATRAC format, ensuring that you can only use music purchased from Sony’s Connect music service. All of this music can only be stored on a special type of memory stick, that is protected by Sony’s MagicGate copy protection.
Most of these problems are software issues not hardware issues, and could easily be fixed with simple updates. But the real problem is actually an attitude problem at Sony, and that may take a lot more to correct than just a simple update.
Interconnectivity and open standards are much more important than protecting proprietary systems in the emerging connection economy.

TomorrowToday Global