Sony's PlayStation 4 follows Mac OS X lead, in contrast to Apple's Post-PC direction

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Sony's plans for its new PlayStation 4 gaming console closely follow Apple's development path for Mac OS X over the last decade. However, Apple's focus has shifted from OS X to iOS, following a "Post PC" trend that began to emerge in 2007.

Yesterday's Sony's PlayStation 4 announcement sounded like a condensed version of Apple's keynotes from the last decade: a deemphasis of optical media in favor of digital downloads (beginning for Apple in iTunes Store 2002 and culminating in the Mac App Store in 2010, enhanced with iCloud access announced in 2011), hardware moving from the PowerPC architecture to an x86 processor (as Macs did in 2006), gesture based input (imported to the Mac from iOS in 2009), a Suspend/Resume/AutoSave architecture (unveiled for OS X 10.7 Lion in 2010), and social integration (like Apple's Game Center and Facebook ties outlined in 2012).

PS4 or Apple TV?


Notably missing from Sony's event was significant recognition of the "Post PC" era that Apple has focused its attention on, beginning with the iPad's unveiling by Steve Jobs three years ago in early 2010.

Sony already knows this Post PC shift has had a major impact on portable gaming, having felt the impact on its PlayStation Portable and its follow up, the PlayStation Vita, first hand. But it didn't give any hint in its presentation that it recognizes Apple's potential to deliver a new assault on living room gaming with its iOS mobile devices (as opposed to another centralized gaming console appliance), even while portraying its own efforts to expand in the "smart TV" market with a graphic that appeared inspired by Apple TV (above).

Instead, Sony seemed comfortably rooted in the PC era, effectively almost ignoring Apple's iOS App Store platform, recently highlighted as having the potential to "kill PlayStation, Wii U and Xbox" by a founder of Microsoft's Xbox gaming efforts.

Sony's PS4 says "I'm a PC"

If Sony were trying to build the low cost, game oriented Mac that many fans had wished Apple to release years ago, it appeared to be right on target. Of course, Sony really has Microsoft's two pronged Windows PC and Xbox gaming initiatives in its targets, not Apple's tiny fraction of the games market represented by the Mac.

Microsoft initially released its original Xbox in 2001 in an effort to derail Sony's increasing presence in gaming with the original PlayStation, out of fear that it might lose the Windows PC gaming empire it worked so hard to build in the 1990s. While the first Xbox had little impact, its Xbox 360 successor initially outsold Sony's parallel offering, the most expensive PS3 console.

Sony said it hoped to ease PlayStation games development (a notable problem for the PS3 and its unique, complex Cell processor architecture). Making its next generation PS4 (due in time for the 2013 holiday season) more architecturally similar to a desktop PC would help in that regard.

Sony is also borrowing elements of Microsoft's popular Xbox Kinect motion gaming accessory by simplifying its own (less successful) Move motion controller and integrating its functionality into the standard PS4 controller, with new 3D camera movement sensing features.

Sony's scant recognition of the Post PC era

Sony is also adding a small touchpad region to its new PS4 controller (below). However, rather than adding a full tablet-style accessory as Nintendo did for its own new Wii U console update, Sony alluded to plans to support various (but as yet undefined) kinds of integration with smartphones, tablets and its own Vita dedicated mobile game device.

PS4 controller


Sony's brief mention of integration with mobile devices is notable given that both Sony and Nintendo have seen their mobile gaming initiatives decimated by casual gaming on smartphones, iPad and iPod touch, led by Apple's iOS App Store gaming initiatives.

When the potential for Apple's iPhone to entrench upon Nintendo's DS and Sony's PSP was first noted in early 2008 the idea was met with scoffing criticism. But by the end of that year, industry leaders were stating that the shift was already well underway. By the end of 2010, it wasn't even a controversial idea that consumers had shifted in droves from dedicated portable gaming devices to general purpose mobile devices.

Sony's new Vita-branded PSP replacement has been an underwhelming flop. So why is Sony virtually ignoring Post PC devices to focus attention on another big console that's more like the conventional PC than ever? It's no doubt related to the fact that Sony has seen some success in selling PCs, but very little in selling phones, tablets, and most recently, its new Vita gaming device. Additionally, Microsoft has successfully kept high end gaming tied closely to the Windows PC, something even the original, Linux-running model of the PS3 couldn't seriously detract from. Sony's clear vision for the future of gaming is very PC.

Will Apple expand Post PC games into the living room via Apple TV?

Like Sony, Microsoft is rumored to have its own next generation Xbox console in the pipeline, while Nintendo is already selling its refreshed Wii U. But Apple now has the potential to seriously break into the living room games market as well, leveraging the strength of its existing iOS platform.

Apple's initial living room product, the 2007 Mac OS X-based Apple TV, didn't even attempt to deliver gaming features. After being reincarnated as an iOS device in 2010, the refreshed Apple TV still remained solely a media playback device.

However, after gaining the ability to wirelessly deliver mirrored video from iOS 5 devices (and later Macs) via AirPlay in 2011, Apple TV began being used to deliver interactive, multiplayer titles that combined an iPhone or iPad "controller" with Apple TV's big screen HDTV output. One notable example of this type of HDTV iOS game is Real Racing 2 (below).





While many observers have speculated that Apple will open an "Apple TV App Store" for TV-based games and other apps, current generation Apple TV devices are ill equipped to provide a gaming platform even remotely competitive with existing, dedicated game consoles. The past two generations of Apple TV have low powered processors (an iPhone 4 style A4 or a scaled down A5X), limited system RAM (256-512MB) and relatively little storage (8 GB).

In the Post PC era, however, Apple doesn't need to offer a high powered central console or develop and maintain a separate App Store specific to the TV. There is already a large installed base of hundreds of millions of iOS mobile devices that pack more graphics power, memory and storage than the current Apple TV device. All Apple needs to do is encourage development of iOS apps that take advantage of AirPlay.

Virtually every iOS game already supports AirPlay Mirroring automatically (below: Batman Arkham City Lockdown for iPad, on HDTV via AirPlay). Several titles actually make special use of AirPlay to deliver alternative graphics (as noted above), allowing users to interact with a private iPad display while showing different graphics on the HDTV screen.

iPad game AirPlay Apple TV


This distributed gaming architecture allows Apple to deliver basic "smart TV" features through the low priced, $99 Apple TV box (including iTunes movies, TV and podcasts; Netflix; Hulu+ and Vimeo), while delegating higher powered gaming functions to mobile devices, which already sell for more than a high end new game console.

Both Microsoft and Sony are already tying these basic smart TV services into their consoles, However, these vendors must charge far more for their hardware than Apple TV because the console itself has to be powerful enough to render games' HD video graphics. With AirPlay and Apple TV, this task is delegated to your iPhone or iPad.

The PS4 and upcoming new Xbox will both deliver more graphics horsepower than today's iPad, but over the course of their lifespans, Apple's rapid, exponential advancement in iPad processing and graphics upgrades will continue as these new consoles remain stuck with the capabilities they arrived with in 2013.

250M game consoles vs 500M iOS devices

Users appear far more willing to replace their $800 smartphone or upgrade their $500 iPad than to regularly replace a $400 games console for a newer one, particularly given the lack of backward compatibility often associated with new game consoles versus the strong backwards compatibility Apple has fostered on the iOS platform.

In the past 13 years since 2000, Microsoft and Sony have each only introduced two new generations of their game consoles, while Nintendo has launched three. In less than half the time (since 2007) Apple has launched six generations of iPhone and iPod touch and four major generations of iPad. This has allowed Apple to continually and aggressively update the processing power, system RAM and storage capacity of its mobile devices.

Since 2005, Microsoft says it has sold 76 million Xbox 360 units; IDC reports that Sony has sold 77 million PS3 units. Since 2006 Nintendo has sold 99 million Wii consoles.

Since the iPhone's release in 2007, Apple has sold over 500 million iOS devices, dwarfing the combined installed base of all three of the last generation of dedicated game consoles.

Distributed iOS gaming

Essentially, rather than building a game console intended to last for five or more years on the market, Apple is building rapidly evolving mobile devices that can function both as mobile gaming devices and as very sophisticated living room game "controllers" for Apple TV, outfitted with cameras, large touchscreen displays, gyroscopic motion sensors, mics, speakers, storage, wireless and mobile network access, advanced processing and video capabilities and other hardware that would be prohibitively expensive to incorporate into a conventional games console controller.

Apple TV, paired to iPhones and iPads via AirPlay, has the potential to render dedicated game consoles obsolete with disruption that mirrors the shift from mainframe computing and dumb terminals to today's distributed PCs with network access.

Apple's "Post PC" gaming architecture already works even without a central living room TV, thanks to peer to peer Bluetooth multiplayer mobile gaming technologies Apple first released as part of iOS 3.0 in 2009. The following year, iOS 4's Game Center added the ability to play against friends and compare scores.

Apple hasn't yet begun actively pushing the development of Apple TV based, multiplayer games played from iPhones, iPods and iPads. However, once it does, the Pre-Mobile, PC design of dedicated game consoles risks the same cannibalization that conventional desktop PCs have suffered from iPad, and that dedicated portable gaming devices have suffered in the Post PC era of ubiquitous mobile devices capable of playing games from an app market dominated by iOS.

Pricing advantage

Accelerating that potential disruption is the fact that new generations of dedicated game consoles last hit the market at around $400 to $600, and their manufacturers initially subsidized those prices by as much as an additional $200. The relatively high entry cost of dedicated game consoles is necessitated by the fact that they have to be powerful enough to get gamers' attention and then last on the market for at least 5-6 years. Only toward the end of their lifespan can they be sold at a profit at an ASP of around $200.

In contrast, because people buy smartphones, iPads and iPods to do other tasks, they can offer to also play games for "free," allowing Apple to sell its Apple TV device for just $99, connecting these mobile devices to the TV. Because mobile devices are regularly replaced, the upgrade cycle of the graphics intensive part of the system is short, while the less powerful TV appliance can be sold cheaply and last for several years without needing a replacement, as it just serves as a conduit for putting the graphics of mobile iOS apps on the big screen.

This gives Apple TV a huge advantage in price competition. In the last generation of video game consoles, price played a major role in the initial success of the Xbox 360 over the significantly more expensive PS3. Microsoft's product could be significantly cheaper because it lacked an expensive HD optical disk player (its ill fated HD-DVD drive was sold separately as an option, while Sony included Blu-ray on the PS3) and didn't initially include support for features such as full 1080p HDTV. Both systems have been outsold by the cheaper, simpler Nintendo Wii, which appeared on the market without any support for HDTV resolutions.

In a market where price has historically been more important to consumers than hardware specs and graphics quality, Apple TV and AirPlay gaming via wirelessly connected iPhones and iPads offer a strong challenge to the status quo, even before considering the much more attractive pricing of iOS games over the $50 to $80 titles of conventional game consoles.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,860member
    What a bunch of BS.
  • Reply 2 of 55
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,590member
    Wow, this article makes a lot of 'leaps' and adds a hell of a lot of fantasy between the lines. Can I get those 5 minutes of my life back please.

    It appears DED opened his mouth and let his belly rumble again.
  • Reply 3 of 55
    ruel24ruel24 Posts: 432member


    If Apple adds gaming to the AppleTV and games via the App Store, Sony's dead in the water...

  • Reply 4 of 55
    You guys are really stretching to make this PS4 news Apple-related.
  • Reply 5 of 55

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ruel24 View Post


    If Apple adds gaming to the AppleTV and games via the App Store, Sony's dead in the water...



    Hardly. Console gaming and touch-screen mobile gaming are completely different beasts. People need to stop comparing the two.

  • Reply 6 of 55
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    There's H.265 (passed first stage of final approval last month) and 802.11ac coming soon. This might be the year that Airplay kicks in to high gear. H.265 is supposed to give the same quality at half the bitrate of H.264.
  • Reply 7 of 55
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TimUSCA View Post


    Hardly. Console gaming and touch-screen mobile gaming are completely different beasts. People need to stop comparing the two.



    The picture in the article of the iPad racing game doesn't look all that different to a console to me.

  • Reply 8 of 55
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    I looked at the title and thought, "That's got to be a Dilger story. It'll be lengthy and inane." Right on all counts. This kind of nonsense makes AppleInsider really look like a bunch of buffoons. To the editors: please put the author of your stories on the main page along with the headlines, so those of us who know better can avoid this crap. Thanks.
  • Reply 9 of 55


    OMG ... they are airplaying the Batman game to a Samsung TV.

  • Reply 10 of 55
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,577member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    The picture in the article of the iPad racing game doesn't look all that different to a console to me.



     


    If you can't tell the difference between rotating an iPad back and forth and tapping a few places on a screen versus using this with a console:


     



     


     


    then well... image

  • Reply 11 of 55
    dbtincdbtinc Posts: 134member
    I got a headache from reading this "column."
  • Reply 12 of 55
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member
    This article needs a big [citation needed] sticker over it.
  • Reply 13 of 55
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,222member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



     


    In the Post PC era, however, Apple doesn't need to offer a high powered central console or develop and maintain a separate App Store specific to the TV. There is already a large installed base of hundreds of millions of iOS mobile devices that pack more graphics power, memory and storage than the current Apple TV device. All Apple needs to do is encourage development of iOS apps that take advantage of AirPlay.





    In a market where price has historically been more important to consumers than hardware specs and graphics quality, Apple TV and AirPlay gaming via wirelessly connected iPhones and iPads offer a strong challenge to the status quo, even before considering the much more attractive pricing of iOS games over the $50 to $80 titles of conventional game consoles.


     


    I so dont agree with this.  Airplay makes it a  lot more expensive than a dedicated game console with controls. Yes the Apple TV is 99$, but then you need a $330 ipad or a $700 iphone to play?  and that is per person on multi-player games?  This is already available and do you see it working?  NO. To top it off the ipad and iphones or ipods are not optimal gaming control, nothing beats real buttons when playing a game.


     


    Apple should have launch its Apple TV app store a long time ago.  But I will give them this:  If they can pack a "real" A5X (no disable core crap) in a $99 apple TV and launch an Apple TV app store at the same time, then YES, at last, they will have a shot in the console market. Airplay is a utility feature, its not a way to replace a console. Any serious gamer knows this. 


     


    This is yet another area where Apple is missing on a huge market when it could enter it with minimal R&D. Not to mention an Apple TV with an app store would be a lot more than just a gaming console.

  • Reply 14 of 55
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,577member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by herbapou View Post


     


    I so dont agree with this.  Airplay makes is a  lot more expensive than a dedivated game console with controls. Yes the Apple TV is 99$, but then you need a $330 ipad or a $700 iphone to play?  and that is per person on multi-player games?  This is already available and do you see it working?  NO. To top it off the ipad and iphones or ipods are not optimal gaming control, nothing beats real buttons when playing a game.


     


    Apple should have launch its Apple TV app store a long time ago.  But I will give them this:  If they can pack a "real" A5X (no disable core crap) in a $99 apple TV and launch an Apple TV app store at the same time, then YES, at last, they will have a shot in the console market. Airplay is a utility feature, its by no means a way to replace a console. Any serious gamer knows this.



    Yeah, buttons are key for complex gaming. I was able to plow my way through Grand Theft Auto III on my iPhone, but it was a pain in the ass, and the controls were pretty much "usable" but far from optimum. Now with Vice City, it's an absolute nightmare. After opening up the second island, I just gave up because of the controls.

  • Reply 15 of 55
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,222member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    The picture in the article of the iPad racing game doesn't look all that different to a console to me.



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TimUSCA View Post


    Hardly. Console gaming and touch-screen mobile gaming are completely different beasts. People need to stop comparing the two.



     


    I dont think the angry birds week-end gamers are capable of understanding this.  Not to mention the fanbois that think that everthing Apple do is gold.

  • Reply 16 of 55
    Sorry, I'm an Apple products fan, I've owned almost any iOS device, including iPhone 5 and iPad 4th gen, and I play a lot of games including the ones with the best graphics, that said, gaming on iOS is really really far from competing with gaming consoles, playing on Apple TV via AirPlay it's just not good, constant lag and unresponsive, the day Apple TV play games directly to the TV with Xbox360 graphics and a physical controller or a driving wheel for racing games, maybe that day I will compare Apple gaming with Sony or Microsoft gaming.

    Also, it is just really funny how the writer compares iOS device sales with real gaming consoles sales, basically is a comparison between an iPod touch first gen vs a PS3 or x360, sorry but you can't compare oranges with apples.

    As for today, iOS gaming is just casual gaming on a mobile device, which is great and convenient when you can't access a gaming console, but it is not compared by any means to console gaming.
  • Reply 17 of 55
    I really don't see games over AirPlay competing with any console, at least not with the current level of networking technology. I've tried Real Racing 2 over AirPlay and found the experience underwhelming. Not the fault of the game, more just the issues with the technology. The gameplay lags, the frame rate only hits 30 fps if you're lucky (consoles will give you up to 60 fps) and the actual image quality isn't all that either... We are talking about a lossy video codec, after all.

    I'd love for the Apple TV to be powerful enough as a gaming console in its own right, but the price would go through the roof so I don't see Apple taking that route. The only other way Apple can compete with consoles for TV-based gaming is for 802.11ac to take off... But that in itself requires users to upgrade ALL of their hardware.
  • Reply 18 of 55
    What a waste of time to read...very fanboy'ish...a lot of words that in the end really say nothing. Much of it is a stretch. Rather than trying to get people to connect the dots, the writer is trying to make the dots himself.

    Disappointing.
  • Reply 19 of 55
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,222member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by matgzx View Post



    ..., playing on Apple TV via AirPlay it's just not good, constant lag and unresponsive,


     


     


    I have noticed that too, I did tried it and its a piece of junk to play games.

  • Reply 20 of 55

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by herbapou View Post


     


    I so dont agree with this.  Airplay makes it a  lot more expensive than a dedicated game console with controls. Yes the Apple TV is 99$, but then you need a $330 ipad or a $700 iphone to play?  and that is per person on multi-player games?  This is already available and do you see it working?  NO. To top it off the ipad and iphones or ipods are not optimal gaming control, nothing beats real buttons when playing a game.


     


    Apple should have launch its Apple TV app store a long time ago.  But I will give them this:  If they can pack a "real" A5X (no disable core crap) in a $99 apple TV and launch an Apple TV app store at the same time, then YES, at last, they will have a shot in the console market. Airplay is a utility feature, its not a way to replace a console. Any serious gamer knows this. 


     


    This is yet another area where Apple is missing on a huge market when it could enter it with minimal R&D. Not to mention an Apple TV with an app store would be a lot more than just a gaming console.



    Had Apple launched an App Store long ago it would have failed. There needs to be an entire infrastructure put in place. Unless an Apple developer can prove otherwise there's a reason that the AppleTV has the memory it has which handles what the AppleTV was designed for and that is streaming and caching movies, shows and audio. Suddenly that memory disappears and if you put games on it now you ruin the viewing experience.


     


    Then there's the controller issue. If Apple is going to make changes to the AppleTV to do gaming, they need something that changes the rules enough to allow them to use something like a traditional controller so that the hype of the product masks out that they're using a controller that is really no different than what everyone else has or the controller itself has to change drastically. Apple relies on trying to hit homeruns with their new products. 


     


    Lastly Apple certainly has market data to show just how well they could compete in this area like many companies...remember, it is a business. The question would be if Apple could execute on it and succeed. If Apple's market data says that viewing movies and selling AppleTV's as an accessory for iPhones/ipads then that's going to be their focus and it has. Apple's iphone and ipod touch are big into games now not because Apple went after the portable games market but because Apple put a powerful device into people's hands at a price they could afford. The games followed and then Apple has been somewhat riding on that like any good company would. For Apple to enter the gaming market in the living room they have to have the whole package ready to go and sell enough to break into that market. Only recently are they selling more units than a very old xbox 360. Good numbers but it's taken time. This is why you just might see games coming to the AppleTV is because they're finally breaking into people's living rooms. Had they attempted this before it would have been an embarrassment to Apple and hurt their branding as well as their stock.

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