I was going to go on a long diatribe about why the PSP didn’t sell as well as Sony expected to do, but you know it’s all pretty simple to me.
Lower demand due to lousy advertising (in my area anyway, the first time I saw a PSP commercial was yesterday), releasing it in March, and a high enough price tag to make potential early adopters think twice. Like I was saying in my previous post not everyone is in a situation where they are spending long periods of time doing nothing. So some people may have thought, “do I really want to spend at least $250 for something I’m just going to use at home? I could be buying 5 games for that price and do the same thing.”
A thought occurred to me last night though. I was pondering why the iPod and other digital music players were so popular. Why are they such a hit while portable video is still something of niche? Put simply it’s because they play music. You can listen to music anywhere, anytime. When you’re doing nothing else, you can listen closely. When you’re working or traveling it can become background noise or, in my case, theme music. You can have it on all the time and your brain can easily switch your attention back and forth as need be.
Obviously this isn’t the case with games and video. You can’t idly play games while you’re working. The can’t strut down the street while watching an episode of The Sopranos. So I’m wondering now (and I’m sure this was pondered in a Sony meeting somewhere as well) if they should have come out and said, “Hey folks, here’s a great music player, a great game player, and great video player all rolled into one!” And then firmly root into the minds of the consumer that he or she will be listening to music while working and playing games or watching a movie on long commutes or trips. Portable entertainment for whenever your brain needs some stimulus. Granted the consumer would be disappointed when they notice the short battery life and low memory (really, the point of any portable device these days should that you don’t have to carry lots of discs, sticks, cartridges, papers, notebooks, etc., etc. for it to be useful). And we all know what happens when you try to put too many things in one device (mediocre everything). But still, it would make the product more desirable to more people.
Instead we’re thinking the PSP is a game machine that also happens to play music and play video. This fine if you’re a gamer. Other folks, I think, will look at it and say, “Every time I use this thing valuable hours will be wasted.” Music doesn’t do that to you. Video does. So Sony along with the rest of the world: The next thing we need is portable entertainment system. Not a portable game system, video system, and certainly no more music systems. Something that can simply fulfill our entertainment needs no matter what situation we’re in. Think you can do that?