With the 3DS a dud, the Sony PSP Vita might be the last chance traditional console makers have at reclaiming the handheld gaming crown from the iPod touch… but with Sony likely losing over $300 per unit sold, how long can the Japanese electronics giant really afford to compete with Apple?
Originally dubbed the ‘Next Generation Portable’, the Vita is Sony’s successor the the PlayStation Portable, and like the Nintendo 3DS, it will go up against the iPod touch when it launches at the end of this year. Sony has slapped a price-tag on the Vita that will give it the best possible chance against Apple’s thriving iPod, but with a starting price of $249, the company is losing cash with every sale – as it does with its PlayStation 3.
But will the compromise be worthwhile? Does the PlayStation Vita have any chance of competing against the iPod touch?
Well, like the glasses-free gaming on the 3DS, the Vita has its gimmicks that attempt to lure gamers away from the App Store. In addition to dual cameras, a 5-inch OLED screen, GPS, six-axis motion sensors, and a three-axis electronic compass, the Vita also boasts dual touch pads – front and back, and built-in 3G through AT&T with access to over 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the U.S. for free. Though, the 3G console is an additional $50.
Despite starting at just $20 more than the iPod touch, several industry analysts have already slammed the device for being too expensive. Dan Ernst of Hudson Square said:
That’s fine for core gamers who want to play games all the time, but it’s too expensive for the mass market.
However, for me, it isn’t about the price of the device. As a huge fan of Sony’s PlayStation 3, (when its network is fully functional), I’m always going to be interested in what Sony has to offer when it comes to handheld consoles – and I’d happily pay more for better gaming. But when you are faced with software prices of around $40, versus the $1-$10 games in the App Store, you are convinced that the iPod touch is the better option for gaming on-the-go.
It’s also worth noting that the PlayStation Vita won’t be competing with Apple’s current-generation iPod touch: by the time the console launches in time for this year’s holiday season, Apple will have already launched its fifth-generation iPod touch at its September iPod event. This gives the Cupertino company plenty of time to look at the Vito and ensure its iPod continues to attract consumers.
And then there’s iCloud. Apple unveiled the cloud-based service at WWDC yesterday, and its plethora of features are guaranteed to make life with an iOS device even more enjoyable. iCloud keeps all of your music, apps, photos, contacts, calendars and email in sync across all of your devices. It negates the need for a computer and it’s something Sony just cannot compete with on the Vita: even if Sony could launch a similar service, their wide scale security and hacking woes over the past couple of months are a PR nightmare that it will literally take years to fix. No one would trust Sony’s iCloud.
I know I’ll but the Vita when it launches here in the U.K., but I’m certain I won’t use it as much as I use Apple’s devices for gaming – and that will be mostly due to the price of software.