Sometimes its good to be lucky than smart. That adage holds true of Sony’s new PlayStation Portable (PSP) which if early reports are any indication is fast becoming developer platform of choice. Today a die-hard Mac shop, PocketMac, announced PocketMac for PSP. This is the third software of its type that syncs up Mac goodies with a PSP. The other two are iPSP and PSPWare. This list is much longer on the Windows side of things. PSPVideo9 can take video files off a PC and puts them on a PSP. Efforts are on to put linux on a PSP. Some are working on hacks to put .tivo files on PSP. A browser hack for PSP is already out on the net. In less than ten days PSP has gone from being a gamers delight to being a must have device.
So far, the device has sold nearly 475,000 according to American Technology Research analyst P. J. McNealy who has described the launch as “solid but not spectacular”. McNealy believes that Sony will sell close to 4.5 million to 5.5 million PSPs in North America this calendar year. I think it might be less because of the games and the movie UMD discs, but because of all the software and hacks being written for the platform. The selection of games at launch is deplorable. I tried, and well turned to more interesting aspects of PSP. (It is one hot device – beautiful and elegant. I love the screen!)
What I find most amusing about this is that Sony doesn’t have anything to do with it. Just like Apple had little hand in developing an iPod ecosystem, PSP-world has become a force on its own, each software released by some enthusiast coder, inspiring many others to write their own hacks. PSP is not an open platform. Sony owns the code, and has imposed its crazy will on the memory standards and even the drives. Business 2.0 story, Sony’s trojan horse talks about Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi’s plan for PSP
By building a strong game library for the PSP and bundling it with a 32-megabyte Memory Stick Duo card, a pair of headphones, and a copy of the Spider-Man 2 film on UMD — all for $250 — he hopes American consumers will snap up the new handheld in record numbers. If his plan succeeds, Sony’s proprietary standards will establish a firm foothold in the marketplace, much like Apple’s (AAPL) popular iPod.
Yet there is so much micro-innovation happening around it. Back when iPod was released, Apple was pretty stringent about opening it up to developers and peripheral makers. (Now they want an iPod tax!) Still folks figured out how to use the headphones jack and firewire ports to develop many different add-ons. It is pretty much the same case with PSP as well. How long do you think before someone comes-up with a small lite-weight text edtior, email client, and a USB-based keyboard. I loved the idea of ad-hoc networking, and I am betting this is going to result in more interesting applications. (I went head to head against Brian and played WipeOut. Well I got wiped out! thrice!)
One of the reasons why Treo and to a large extent Palm have not expanded in their appeal is their limited connectivity options. I believe had Palm/Treo 650 supported wi-fi, USB and other such onboard technologies more folks would have extended that platform. This is a vital lesson for companies – if you are going to have industry standard ports or network connections (like Wi-Fi) – never mind your proprietary technology, innovating massed will figure out a way to use them and innovate around