Is it just us, or does Sony have some sort of masochistic fetish with pissing off its consumer-base? Sure, the whole rootkit fiasco happened an eternity ago (in Internet years, anyway), so why dredge up old feelings of anti-Sony sentiment by charging for the Playstation Network (PSN)? Probably because Microsoft contniues to get away with charging for its Xbox Live service.
Before you bust out the pitchforks and coat the tips with rust, keep in mind that nothing is official yet, and may never be, but it sure sounds like something's brewing.
"Will we charge for it or why don't we charge for it? It's been our philosophy not to charge for it from launch up until now, but Kaz recently went on the record as saying that's something we're looking at," Peter Dillie, head of the PSN, said in a recent interview with IGN. "That's something that we're actively thinking about. What's the best way to approach that if we were do that? You know, no announcements at this point in time, but it's something we're thinking about."
It seems that Dillie raises more questions than answers, such as how seriously is Sony really considering charging for PSN, and how would the fee structure break down?
Forget about getting coal for Christmas, any 8-year-old boy will tell you that the worst gift ever conceived is Sony's new Jill Stuart Sweet Limited PSP Bundle. That's okay, because Sony's targeting the other gender with this one.
Sony's going all out in trying to appeal to female gamers. In addition to the pink PSP, the bundle also includes a pink cleaning cloth and a pink and gold carrying case, both of which come imprinted with Jill Stuart's name.
On the hardware side, the bundle includes the PSP 3000 and not the newer (and redesigned) PSP Go. It also includes a 4GB memory stick.
Only girl gamers in Japan need apply, where the new bundle is being released on March 4th for about $232. No word on when, or if, Sony plans on bringing this one to the U.S.
No matter how many companies try, we're not sure USB flash drives preloaded with music or movies will ever generate the kind of sales marketing gurus envision, but Kingston and Sony, along with the help of the late king of pop, are nevertheless going to try.
Timed to the DVD and Blu-ray release of Michael Jackson's "This Is It," Kingston plans to release a limited edition 2GB drive with the flick preloaded on the memory stick. According to Kingston, the film can be backed up on up to three PCs and works with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.
"Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is dedicated to exploring new distribution channels, and we are pleased to work together with Kingston on a program that introduces consumers to Flash memory as a vehicle for enjoying their favorite movies on devices like netbooks and PCs," said Sony Pictures Home Entertainment senior vice president digital distribution Joe Arancio.
The drive will be available on January 26 for $20.
Sony has announced yet another product at CES. This one is a bit of a head-scratcher for us, though. The Dash Internet Viewer is a sort of touchscreen widget station. Think Chumby, but with a larger (and frankly, beautiful) 7 inch screen and sleeker design. As it turns out, that’s exactly what it is; the Dash runs the Chumby OS.
Sony is pushing the app angle hard, because well, isn’t everyone? The Chumby OS already has over 1000 apps available, and Sony will be making some new ones of its own. The Dash will have Wi-Fi so you can use it to pull down data for those data-hungry apps. There is no internal battery, so don’t confuse this with a tablet device as some already have. Is this something you need? If so, the Dash will be shipping in April for $199.
You can only swim against the tide for so long. Sony, after 11 long years swimming against the tide, has announced that its giving in, and it too will produce a line of SD cards.
Sony says “the new cards will complement” their existing Memory Stick line of memory cards, but it concedes the Memory Stick’s unpopularity by saying it needs to “satisfy the needs of a broader range of users.” (Such as everybody else in the known universe.)
Sony’s SD/SDHC cards will be Class 4, and range in capacity from 2 GB to 32 GB. A line of microSD/microSDHC cards will also be available, with capacities from 2 GB to 8 GB. Retail prices will range from $14.99 for the 2 GB SD card to $159.99 for the 32 GB SDHC card. MicroSD cards will range in price from $14.99 to $44.99.
Don’t think Sony’s yet given up on out-lasting the tide. According to Sony, the “Memory Stick is [still] the recommended media for Sony products.”
It’s early January, so it must be time for CES-related nonsense--expect announcements galore. Such as this one: Sony, Imax, and Discovery have announced they’ll be teaming up to produce a 3D TV channel.
3D television, the next ‘big’ thing, is expected to garner some attention at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This joint venture will rely on Sony to work out the home-side kinks in delivering 3D; Imax will add their experience in creating and delivering 3D in theater settings; and Discovery Communications, the proud providers of the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, and the Oprah Winfrey Network, will supply the content.
According to the announcement, the three will focus on driving consumer adoption of 3D television by providing “high-quality premium content from genres that are most appealing in 3D, including natural history, space, exploration, adventure, engineering, science and technology, motion pictures and children's programming.” (Sadly, porn did not make the list.)
This announcement follows ESPN’s announcement of “ESPN 3D”, which will broadcast some 85 live events in 3D, starting in 2010. The Discovery/Sony/Imax venture will instead be a legitimate channel, providing content 24/7.
Blu-ray has faced down some pretty significant criticisms in its rise to dominance over the past few years, but complaints about its storage capacity was never one of them. Never the less a research partnership between Panasonic and Sony has yielded a new technique which will increase disk capacities from 25GB per layer to 33GB. Normally a small jump like this would have us rolling our eyes when it comes to the prospect of replacing all our hardware, but interestingly enough, it appears as though the jump in capacity can be achieved using the optics in our current players.
The new standard is called i-MLSE which stands for Maximum Likelihood Sequence Estimation, this is a method of estimating the read error rate of disks on the fly. If all goes as planned the only action users will need to take to read the disks would be a firmware update on existing players. There is no timeline for the rollout yet, but Sony is set to propose the adoption of i-MLSE to the Blu-ray Disk Association in the coming months, which as you might imagine, they have a fair bit of sway over.
Although sales figures are hard to hammer down, its seems like e-book readers were a smash hit this year. Amazon alone is claiming that the Kindle was the most gifted item in its history. No numbers were mentioned, but when you consider that it is up against everything from game consoles to GPS’s this is no small milestone. Another interesting stat is that on Christmas day, e-books outsold their paper brethren by a pretty healthy margin. No doubt this was all the new Kindle owners firing up their devices in search of content, but it only further fuels speculation that all reading will eventually shift to digital distribution in the future.
The Kindle seems to have been a raging success, but the Barnes and Noble Nook appears to be suffering a bit with early reports showing that its content servers became overloaded preventing users from downloading purchased e-books.This might end up being but a small blip of bad press in the products long life cycle, but its definitely not the kind attention Barnes and Noble was hoping for over the holiday. In this case the success of the Nook can be attributed to its failings, but that’s small consolation for its owners.
Did you get an e-book reader over the holidays? What do you think of it?
In an increasingly overcrowded e-reader market, content will likely decide the ultimate winner. It worked for Apple, and Sony is hoping they are on track as well by signing new deals with News Corp to add content from the Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, and the New York Post to its e-ink devices.
According to Reuters, Sony will offer monthly subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal for $14.99, MarketWatch for $10.99, and the New York Post for $9.99. It seems as though Sony believes the e-ink editions formatted for their devices can command a slight premium since the Wall Street Journal online can be viewed from any web browser for less than $8 a month at today’s prices. This represents a pretty significant price delta, but it likely has something to do with the additional formatting that needs to go into reorganizing the content for a smaller screen.
Exact sales numbers for e-ink devices are hard to hammer down, but analysts currently forecast the Kindle alone will bring home about $301.4 million in revenue for Amazon in 2009, and this number is expect to grow as high as $1.8 billion by 2012. Only time will tell if the Kindle will remain the dominant platform, but clearly its still anyone game at this point.
Which e-reader do you think has the potential to become the next iPod? Or will the market fragment the way PC’s did?