Sony Provides Sneak Peak Of "iPod Killer"

in General Discussion edited January 2014


Sony Details Gaming-Music Player, iPod Rival

Tue November 4, 2003 11:03 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Japan's Sony Corp. on Tuesday detailed plans for a much-anticipated all-in-one handheld gaming device that includes a digital music and video player and could even act as mobile telephone.

Officials of the world's largest consumer electronics maker also said Sony would launch a rival to Apple Computer Inc's iPod digital music player next year for as little as $60.

Sony described a prototype for its PSP gaming device -- due out before the end of 2004 -- during a presentation to U.S. investors that reiterated plans to restore profitability at the company.

"PSP will be the Walkman of the future," declared Ken Kutaragi, Sony's executive deputy president and head of its gaming business, comparing a PSP prototype to Sony's highly successful earlier generation of music players.

PSP is designed to rival Nintendo Co. Ltd's Game Boy handheld game player, mobile phone maker Nokia Oyj's N-Gage wireless gaming device and Apple's iPod and iTunes music download service.

Sony plans to eventually add telecommunication features, Kutaragi told a news conference afterward, lending credence to speculation PSP devices would also serve as mobile phones.

Sony currently envisions a device that looks somewhat similar to Nokia's recently introduced N-Gage gaming phone, but with a bigger display that makes it looks more like a handheld television.

The "concept model" showed off by Kutaragi was a one-piece device designed to be grasped in two hands, with a bright, color screen roughly 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) in diameter, he told Reuters.

"PSP will not be one kind of product," Kutaragi said. Rather, it is a platform of related devices with the capacity to add or subtract features, he said, while stressing that final design details are not expected to be revealed until later.

While crediting Apple and its chief executive, Steve Jobs, for the success of the iPod, Sony officials said the PSP would allow consumers to watch music videos as well as listen to digital tunes.

"We are taking on iPod with our new device," another Sony official said. "We are coming at him (Steve Jobs) on that front."

Sony executives said that next year it will introduce versions of a rival music player to the iPod for as little as $60, a price only one-quarter or less than the $200 to $400 Apple charges for various versions of its sleek product.

Apple's lead in innovating in the portable music sector practically invented by Sony has been highlighted as typical of the problems at the Japanese company, which last month reported a 25 percent drop in quarterly profits.



  • Reply 1 of 33
    screedscreed Posts: 1,077member
    $60, ay? If its capacity isn't 10/20/40 GB it is not an iPod killer. Ooh, look, removable media! How quaint. The Zen of the iPod: your entire music collection in your pocket, period.

  • Reply 2 of 33
    I think this provides even more incentive for Apple to create iPod AV. They've said "no video" on the thing, but I am skeptical. This product from Sony shows the possibility. Apple has a great position with regard to its iPhoto and QuickTime technologies here.

    Imagine iPod AV:

    - Sync w/iPhoto

    - Built-in QT Player

    - iPhoto slide shows

    - Games

    - iTunes visualizer built-in

    - iTunes Music Store video downloads

    - iTunes album art

    Oh yeah, and some other things which it is surprising they don't have right now:

    - Sync w/Stickies

    The war has begun. The 900-pound gorilla (Sony) is awake. Apple needs to be aware of this or their iPod darling will disappear as fast as it arrived.

    NOTE: I've seen some amazing (non-Apple) mock-ups of such a device. I think iPod AV is an eminently doable product.
  • Reply 3 of 33
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Minidiscs? Memory Sticks? They ain't gonna cut it.

    The biggest advantage is the inclusion of a single simple workflow from computer to device. iTunes is the killer feature of the iPod though. Can Sony create that kind of user experience? If they can't these things might not be such iPod killers, at least not outright. The quality of the experience is what sets the iPod apart, not any specific feature. Then again, Dell and Walmart are both popular, so you can't say that people really demand quality if the price is right.
  • Reply 4 of 33
    alcimedesalcimedes Posts: 5,486member
    problem is doable ≠ viable
  • Reply 5 of 33
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    The PSP looks like an entirely different philosophy than the iPod. The iPod was specifically designed to be the best portable music player available. And it succeeds - just look at how successful it's been!

    This "PSP" device will not be able to compete with the iPod if it's a combination music player, video player, game device, PDA, and cell phone. The interface would have to make too many compromises to perform all those functions. It just doesn't make sense to me.

    I do have to commend Sony on taking a new approach, however. Plenty of iPod look-alikes have come out (Nomad Zen, that ugly Toshiba "Gigabeat" one, one other that I don't remember the name, Dell DJ), but none seem to have been that successful in taking on the iPod. I guess Sony figures they'll have to compete with it indirectly.

    We'll see how this pans out. I don't expect anything that impressive but only time will tell.
  • Reply 6 of 33
    smirclesmircle Posts: 1,035member
    If Sony is able to launch a sub $100 mp3-player without obvious flaws, the iPod is dead. But let's wait and see.
  • Reply 7 of 33
    jlljll Posts: 2,713member
    It looks like it will compete with N-Gage. Perhaps the three people owning N-Gages will think about a PSP next time.
  • Reply 8 of 33
    screedscreed Posts: 1,077member
    Hey no argument that it would be wicked-neat to take my porn^H^H^H^H pirated TV epi^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H pleasant and wholesome home videos of my puppy with me where ever I travel, but for $60!?

    This is all vaporware now and even more vaporous prices. Apple prices upwards, true, but not $240 of profit for the 10GB iPod. A decent resolution color LCD would raise the price significantly. And we're talking about a relatively small screen here or ballooning the size of the iPod to the point where it no longer is appealing.

    Apple needs to work their way down to a $99 iPod for market share more than a super-iPod.

  • Reply 9 of 33
    Keep it simple, keep it elegant and drive down cost = continued success for iPod.
  • Reply 10 of 33

    Originally posted by sCreeD

    Apple needs to work their way down to a $99 iPod for market share more than a super-iPod.

    Maybe Apple needs to do both.

    At some point the amount of disk space (on the high end) isn't really going to be very interesting. How many people have 60GB of music? Some, but not many.

    I could imagine a range of iPods from $99 to $499 with varying functionality...including video.
  • Reply 11 of 33
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member

    Originally posted by Chris Cuilla

    I could imagine a range of iPods from $99 to $499 with varying functionality...including video.

    Yes, lets take baby steps first. I think a $99 iPod may be available down the road, but not right away (think of how many people would be pissed off).

    A good start would to have a $199 model...perhaps introduced at MWSF in January.
  • Reply 12 of 33

    A good start would to have a $199 model...perhaps introduced at MWSF in January.

    I agree. There will be a return of the 5 Gig (or something on that order) for $199. Or, Apple may reduce the prices across the board by $100. They did it before so why not again.
  • Reply 13 of 33

    Originally posted by MacsRGood4U

    I agree. There will be a return of the 5 Gig (or something on that order) for $199. Or, Apple may reduce the prices across the board by $100. They did it before so why not again.

    I hear the idea of "bring back the 5GB for <insert lower dollar figure here>" all the time. Unfortunately, this presumes (possibly erroneously) that the 5BG drives are actually cheaper. Probably they are not. In fact, I'd wager that the 5GB drives are not much cheaper than 10GB drives.

    I am certain Apple is working hard on several fronts with the iPod:

    1. Smaller, thinner, lighter

    2. Cheaper

    3. Better battery life

    4. More functionality
  • Reply 14 of 33
    Let's not forget that the iPod already allows you to backup and sync your address book, calendar, etc. If I had $400 to blow, I would definitely get one just to keep all the info on my G4 tower and PowerBook up to date, and to get my 7 gigs of music off of both their hard drives. As it is, I don't have that much cash I'm willing to spend on a fancied up external hard drive. I'll just replace both computers with a new PowerBook and a cinema display in a year or so. Problem solved. But that's beside the point. The iPod is a lot more than just a portable entertainment device if you want it to be.
  • Reply 15 of 33
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    Looks like a PDA no matter how Sony plans to market the device. Nothing new here... move along.
  • Reply 16 of 33

    Originally posted by dfiler

    Looks like a PDA no matter how Sony plans to market the device. Nothing new here... move along.

    Interesting. So does iPod.
  • Reply 17 of 33

    Originally posted by Chris Cuilla

    Interesting. So does iPod.

    How so?

    You can't actually *do* nearly as much with the iPod as you would a full-fledged PDA. Of course, I don't really see the PSP as your typical PDA either...
  • Reply 18 of 33
    Before you crack too much on Sony's choice of media, remember this:

    Apple is an American Company

    Sony is a Japanese Company.

    MiniDiscs are HUGE in Japan. Most college students in Japan go rent a CD and then copy it at home to a mini disk, and then take the CD back to the store. They love minidisks and that is the best media for something like this in Japan.

    Two: Japanese love technology. Not to sound stereotypical here, but in Japan, everyone has a cell phone (like 98%) and almost all of them have cell phone cameras, cell phone mp3 players, etc. They would love something that can play video and fit in your pocket and uses minidisks and has GAMES!

    This product is geared to Japanese people, not Americans. Until Sony comes up with something the size of a minidisk that holds 10GB or does a complete redeisgn of the product and adds a hard drive, there is no way it will compete with the iPod. And besides, the price would go from 60 to 200 easily if a mini hard drive was added.

    But still, I think it will do very well for that price in Japan. I think Sony really hit a big one with this (just not as big a one as the iPod).8)
  • Reply 19 of 33
    One of the realities of making a hard drive based player "smaller and lighter" is that battery hours will suffer because of this diminished size. There are always "new" battery technologies out there but they seldom seem to come into use. The Dell player gets longer battery life because it is larger player then the iPod (heavier too) and has room for a larger and longer life battery.
  • Reply 20 of 33
    zozo Posts: 3,117member
    The PSP is not the iPod killer...

    sony says the will come out with "other products". Unboubtedly it will be somekind of UMD Discman where you can put up to 1.8GB of music on a UMD disk. And it wont have all the PSP functionality. Just an audio device.

    If its as Fascist as Minidiscs, it will have a VERY hard time taking off. The 'copy protection' on MiniDiscs also killed it. And those stupid Sony Magic Gate sticks. What a crock of crap.

    Anyway, iPod has nothing to worry about. These are two products that do different things.

    Not that I'm not gonna buy a PSP the second it comes out My GameBoy Advance SP is nice... but...

    The iPod and PSP are complimentary.
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