Sony is said to be hard at work on their PSP phone. By the looks of it, the device is one part handheld gaming machine, one part smartphone. It’s said to run on the Android OS, and it looks a lot like Sony’s PSPgo, minus the analog nub that gives players better control over characters in 3D environments. Of course the model we’ve been looking at is nothing more than a prototype, and things may change before the system is released.
Sony hasn’t quite nailed it on digital distribution yet, either. Their PlayStation Network has some find games such as Pain, Flower and the Pixeljunk series. Still, it’s not quite as popular as Xbox Live Arcade, which debuted such games as Castle Crashers and Shadow Complex. Of course, this may also be partly due to Microsoft’s strong push for their online network. And maybe that’s where Sony’s problem lies. And let’s not even bring up their handling of the PSPgo. Within a year of its release, Sony has had to pull its status in the gaming market from “premium” to “experiment.”
That said, there are probably a few things that Sony could learn from Apple:
1) Make Your SDK Easily Obtainable – Apple puts their iOS SDK up for download on their official website. Licensed developers who pay the nominal yearly fee ($99), have access to the beta versions of upcoming iOS builds and a marketplace for App distribution.
2) Now That Smaller Developers Have Access to the SDK, Give them a Means of Distribution – Not only does Apple sell App makers a developer license for $100, they give them a place to distribute their Apps. Apple takes 30 percent and the rest goes to the developer. With a successful App, this adds up to a lot of revenue for both parties. In addition to that, developers can opt for free distribution. In that case, the applications are ad-supported. They may not generate as much revenue, or do so as quickly, but people are more willing to download an App if it costs them nothing.
3) It’s Okay to Be An Ass Sometimes – Yeah, Apple is controlling, yadda yadda, but people know exactly where to go if they want Trainyard for the iPhone. Apple can be the huge, controlling jerk in the relationship sometimes, but it’s all business to them. Sony, on the other hand, needs to learn how to put their foot down sometimes. An example was Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep on the PSP. The game was released in UMD (Universal Media Disc) format, but never made it as a digital download for the PSPgo. This angered those who had purchased Sony’s premium priced system. Uploading a digital file to Sony’s server is easy compared to pressing millions of UMDs. Sony should have looked at Square Enix and said, “Nuh-uh, bit**es, you’re going to release this game for PSPgo owners too.” Instead, a portion of their loyal customers were left without the game. Of course we don’t know the full details about what went on behind the scenes. Still, come on, Sony, grow a pair.
4) Don’t Just Talk Crap, Promote Your Content – And by grow a pair, we don’t mean taunt the competition and the consumer base. That’s just weak. Sony’s Marcus advertising campaign stars a bratty little kid who likes to poke a lot of fun at the competition. Unfortunately, that’s about all the ad campaign does. It talks down the competition, but fails to tell us why the PSP is so good. Meanwhile companies like Nintendo and Apple promote the content on their devices, or show us scenarios with everyday uses for the machines. That’s why after watching an iPad commercial some of us might say, “Yeah, it would be kind of cool to kick back in bed and read comics on that thing.”
5) Express an Interest in Developers – Apple is good at this. Not only do they make it easy for developers to obtain a license, they constantly promote the Apps through commercials and the App Store. During keynotes, Jobs talks up the App Store by talking about the userbase and how many potential customers there are for iOS developers. Marketing talk or not, it makes the platform seem pretty tempting. The developer gets their 60 percent and Apple gets their 30, both parties get something out of it.
It’s Time for Sony to Take Aim
Sony has a great opportunity ahead of it. The challenge right now is convincing people that their gaming machine is better than the others. They already have two potential markets: PlayStation fans and Android fans. Let’s just hope they don’t drop the ball.