spring, spring! 2006! really!

Sony did spend the last year confirming a launch date of Spring 2006 for it’s next generation game console PS3. As late as December the company was re-iterating this mantra. People were somewhat surprised, since the very same empty ‘concept design’ hulls were all that could ever be seen of the PS3. There were ‘example’ videos, but nobody would really think that those were rendered on an actual PS3 system.

A week ago news spread that Sony would showcase the PS3 on the Taipei Game Show this week and that got people excited. Microsoft launches the Xbox 360 in Taiwan on March 16th, and many gamers expected that Sony would reveal more about the PS3, maybe even show one, in order to dampen Microsofts growing marketshare. It turned out that Sony still has no real PS3 to show. Just some more promo videos.

And some executive PR statements:
Sony will sell 100 Million PS3s
PS will launch this year

The latest is that Sony needs some extra time and care to protect the PS3 against pirates:

Our No. 1 competition is not other companies but counterfeiters.

No word where they will launch first. No prices. No working consoles. No schedule. Sony also says that it will an online component called “HUB”.

Contratictory to so bleak non-news
Sony’s stock price
has been going up since mid last year. According to Businessweek Sony lost 290 Million US$ in their electronic - and made 365 US$ with their gaming-division last year.

I think that we will see the stock price go below thirty US $ until summer.

Here the real story about PS3.

(I don’t know this, I have no inside knowledge. I would not write about it if I would. It’s just an educated (?) guess)

Sony is depending on their gaming division revenue. More than ever. None of their established fields did well lately: They ARE the Walkman company, but never got mp3’s. Their Trinitron Tubes were the best around, but the prettiest Flatscreens came from Samsung and Co. Computers ? Well, not really that hot either. Movies are hit and miss, they have a big music division, but we all know how well CD peddlers do.

Leaves games. In games people still pay for content. The bigger the current problems of Sony in total grew the higher the expectations rose in their Gaming Division to deliver the goods. In Japan, uf you are asked to deliver then you do. Or you pretend to do: Kutaragi got years ago Millions and Millions in R&D for the next gen console. He suceeded with PS1 and PS2. Now, in his early 50s, it was time to build some legacy. So he set amazingly high marks for the specs of the PS3. Nothing less than dual 1080p should this machine be able to push. More than ten times the screen resolution than the PS2 can do. A huge leap ahead. Sony liked to hear that: It would secure the revenue stream off their gaming divsion. They knew all to well, that they sold 100 Million PS1s and 100 Million PS2s. . It is no coincidence to see this number now been cited in respect to the PS3. In reality it might just be whistling in the woods.

There is no PS3 yet. Not one has been built. At least not one that would be worth showing. Sony went to Toshiba and IBM to get the very very latest in CPU technology: The “cell”. Based on Kutaragies specs the CPU is supposed to do wonders. I think that this is were the problem is. Launching a new CPU is a big deal. There is a learning curve for everybody. Lot’s and lot’s of things need to work together real well. If you have a working system and you ‘just’ tune parts. Not so here: Most things inside of the PS3 are new. Eventually they will work. And might even work well. Sony’s bigger problem is to internally manage exactly when the machine will be ready.

If the executives cite now piracy concerns then I think that they simply telling the world what their engineers told them. The real fact is that things just got out of hand. The box is too complex to handle. But it sounds better if you tell your boss that you need extra time to protect against all those pirates out there: “Those damn pirates, you hate them too Mr Stinger, right? You don’t want your pretty new PS3 been pirated right? ” While the truth is rather different: Sony tried to leap too far. Last year they had to show most amazing videos at E3, because that was what Kutaragi did promise his elders for years. Now they are stuck on delivering this. Kutaragi said that he would expect people to get a second job in order to pay for the PS3. That’s how amazing he thought it will be. I think now he would be really reallly happy if could cram a working system into those slim empty case they did show since almost a year. Just a system that is up to par with the XBox 360, with some games for it. Maybe even this year. So that Sony can plug into where the gaming money really will be: online connection of gaming consoles. XBox Live becomes right now the ITMS for small little games. A whole new concept. There will be ample games for a few dollars: Gamers are happy, since they have the choice, developers are happy, since they get to market quickly, get new trends and have no production cost. Sony is lightyears away from having anything like this.

Ironically it will be Microsoft that will be depending on it’s gaming revenue much like Sony has been for the last years: Vista will fall /way/ behind internal expectations for various reasons. But Xbox will make continue to make money.
And Sony? Well, they will be known for the mobile TV Set’s they flew into NY with a 747 in order to meet demand, the Walkman and the Trinitron TV. And the Playstation1 & 2. The rest is history. Not the pleasant kind. Sorry Sony. No better news for you.

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