Meanwhile on planet Sony

Playstation Logo

So there was another update to the Playstation 3 firmware. This was kind of expected as Sony is preparing the launch of another version of the PS3, slimmer than the slim model I have.
In the world of technology, hardware tends to evolve fast, and buying, six years later, the same hardware is generally impossible, yet this is what Sony is about to sell: a device with mostly the same technical specifications as the original Playstation 3; there are basically two differences besides the size between the model that will launch and the one from six years ago: the size of hard-drive and the lack of the emotion engine, which offered Playstation 2 compatibility in the. That compatibility system disappeared with the slim model.

This is all fine, while the PS3 is certainly not a speed demon by today’s standards, it still has usable hardware, basically similar horsepower to a newer iPhone, so it should be capable of doing the same class of stuff as an iPhone or a tablet: games – of course – but also light web-browsing, e-mail reading. For this one simply needs a web browser (a local e-mail client would be nice, but let us not push it). This spring Sony did something surprisingly reasonable, it replaced the integrated web-browser with a webkit one, sufficiently advanced to pass the Acid3 test, and even some HTML5 features like the canvas tag.

This was update 4.11, the update for October was 4.30, and guess what it improved? The trophy UI is now compatible with the Playstation Vita. I have a computer which Sony thinks is still good enough to sell, is powerful enough to compute protein folding, Sony removes the protein folding client and improves the trophy showcase. Besides this, nothing was improved or even fixed, Facebook photos are still broken in the gallery, there was not the slightest improvement to the web browser, no new utility program, nothing, nada, just trinket compatibility with a gaming console nobody is buying.

To put things into perspective, Sony sold 2.2 millions Playstation Vita between its launch in december 2011 and end of June 2012. Apple sold more than twice this number of iPhone 5 units in a week-end. In fact if you look at the technical specs, the devices are really close (I have added the new Nexus 4 for comparison).

iPhone 5 Playstation Vita Nexus 4
CPU 2 × custom ARM7 (A6)
1.3 Ghz
4 × ARM7 (Cortex-A9)
0.8 – 2 Ghz
4 × ARM7 (Snapdragon)
1.5  Ghz
GPU 3 × PowerVR 325MHz 4 × PowerVR 200MHz Adreno 320
Screen 1136 × 640 960 × 544 1280 × 768
Memory 1 GB 512 MB + 128 MB (VRAM) 2 GB

The iPhone is much more expensive, and has no gaming buttons, on the other hand, it is much smaller and can do useful stuff: make phone calls for starters, web-browsing, light e-mail reading, plus it has a lot of apps – iOS also has much larger user-base: there are around 250 millions iOS5 devices. This in turn is dwarfed by huge volume of android devices: 400 millions.

Two single purpose devices built by Sony – portable gaming consoles and point and shoot cameras – are being replaced by phones that are more versatile, and it takes no genius to realise that single purpose devices in the living room are bound to have the same fate, yet Sony’s strategy seems to be doing nothing…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: