PlayStation Vita Priced to Do Battle With iPod Touch, But It Can’t Compete With iCloud



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.

  • bplano

    I think Sony has a really cool idea here. They need to make it work with what people use – Facebook, Twitter, etc…

    Still, would it replace my iPod Touch? I don’t think so :\

  • Son1ze

    The thing with iPhones & iPod touches, and even Androids to a degree, is that I’ve seen 35+ male/female adults unashamedly playing games on them in public as they ride the subway or whatever.

    But with Sony or Nintendo portables I’ve yet to see anyone above 20 bust one out to bang off a game of whatever. Umm…so if your market is pigeoned-holed like that you’d better have a device that rocks the social media angle to make up for the A.D.D. that kicks in when the game is exited.

    But you don’t…you just put out another gaming device that cannibalizes your Xperia gaming phone venture. Sorry Sony. Just like arcades this thing is DOA. Losing money on each unit is a bad way to go about doing business because then you have to rip people off on your TV and camera MRSPs. Lol. Have you not learned anything with the PS3? Damn.

  • Jonathan Rodwell

    This is rubbish. The argument in the post is, in effect, “something cheaper and more popular is better” and I don’t accept that.

    My problem with iOS games? Non of them hold a candle to the quality of games on the ds/3ds or psp. Name one iOS game with the dept, or frankly artistry of a Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, Zelda, Little Big Planet, Pro Yakyuu Sprits etc. Game Dev Story on iOS, maybe, and that’s it.

    As a gamer (and an owner of an iPhone 4) until the quality of the games match those on real games platforms, I’ll never shy away from the likes of PS Vita and 3DS. Actually, the thing that worries me the most is that I see iOS games as similar to fast-food; cheap, easy to access but unsatisfying. They have their place. But, there will always be a place (and a market) for higher quality and more satisfying experiences. If Angry Birds is our gaming future count me out! The challenge is whether Sony and Nintendo can leverage their advantage (simply better games) over the appeal of the cheap end of the market.

    P.s. as for iCould, Sony already offers game saves and keeps purchased Playstation Network games ‘in the cloud’ and has done for the last year or so). If you buy a PSP today, there is no need to ever sync it with a computer for anything you buy off PSN. Remember, this was one of the criticisms of PSPGO. But, in this respect it was years ahead of Apple.

    Finally, saying no-one would trust Sony’s iCloud is clearly not true, the number seem to indicate that about 10% of users have no returned. Even with my rubbish maths that isn’t ‘no-one’.

  • alvarotvv

    There is really no match for the variety and quality of games that a dedicated gaming portable console can offer over iOS devices. I own both an iPad 2 and an iPhone 3gs but I never use them for gaming. 

    I think it is a matter of what kind of games you are looking forward to, even if they are expensive when compared to iOS’s casual games. For example, it’s not hard to see any serious gamer pay $40 for a full Metal Gear game. This might seem like nonsense for those who don’t care about the depth and production values of a game, but of course, most of those people might not even know what MGS is in the first place.

    Personally, I see a market for both types of devices. And for those who think the Vita (what a silly name btw) will not be successful, here is the (growing) list of the top 150 game developers in the world who are already supporting the system (without it even having a launch date).
    …Vita is D.O.A……Sure.

  • Stuart Otterson

    Given time, the games on iOS devices will only keep getting better, they will keep on selling by the bucket and the growing user base will continue to turn developers heads. The momentum is all with iOS.

    For the sakes of argument I’m inclined to agree that currently iOS doesn’t compete on level heading in terms of proper gaming quality products. But in 3 years time? Can you confidently believe in 36 months iOS won’t have the quality, depth and artistry of games such as Metal Gear Solid? That’d be pretty brave and if it was me I would never bet against Apple cus they have a habit of making fools out of all of us.

    In 3 years time, the hardware will get more powerful, because it will have been upgraded 3 times. The user base will have grown year on year (I believe there’s some figure floating around that they have sold more iPhone 4s than all their previous iPhones combined), the App Store will continue generate money. It only takes 1 game that matches your quality standards to make a load of money on the App store for a floodgate to burst to every other traditional console game developer wanting a slice of the market (that said many are already developing games just not of the standard you uphold to).

    If anything you should be afraid for Sony and Nintendo, cus I don’t believe they can leverage all the advantages their respective platforms hold to their full potential. I can just see them throwing their lead away.

  • viperacr133

    Once people see Call of Duty in this thing they will fly off the shelfs, i’m willing to bet even the Microsoft fans will buy one for Call of Duty on the go. The ipod can do some games well but there is not one good shooter on IOS and never will be. You can not control shooters with a touch screen, you need analog sticks. 

    Its the same with racing games, ya tilting it to the sides works pretty well but no where near as good as analog sticks. 

  • Yf

    3G with AT&T? Aren’t they the ones with 2gb data caps?…..

  • d4rk_l1gh7

    I’m tired of hearing “Sony loses money with each console sold”. It’s completely unwise to sell a product at a price where there is no gain. If they lost 300 US with each handheld sold… errm, lets do the math, 300 times 10 millions units sold over 6 months = a lot of money lost. And over 3 billion dollars of cash lost is a lot of money, even to a multi billion dollar cooperation. It could represent huge financial loss that could cripple the company later on.

    And, stop saying the console will be dead on arrival. iPhone was made to be a PHONE with some commonly needed computing capabilities. Vita was made to be a gaming console, to play games, and for people to enjoy high quality games; games that the iPhone can’t give you (ex: how many physical buttons does the iPhone have? if they do release a gaming controller accessory, how much will it cost? It’s just not economically viable to buy a smartphone for gaming purposes). Smartphones will be Smartphones, handheld consoles will be handheld consoles. Let the iPhone compete with Android, let Vita compete with 3DS. Clean competition.

  • Kagedblack001

    ios will never compete with real games on the vita due to the lack of buttons and analog sticks man

  • Davis

    “With the 3DS a dud ….”

  • Davis

    “With the 3DS a dud ….”

    Are you serious?

    The system hasn’t even been out for a whole year–hell, it’s barely been out half a year. The original DS system was in a worse position than the 3DS is at this point (the DS didn’t have huge first party titles on the horizon yet). Can you imagine, saying what you’ve said now, looking back seven years ahead having referred to the Nintendo DS a “dud”? This isn’t even taking into account the fact that the 3DS is the best-selling console in the world right now.

  • Alan

    Controllers are already on the market: