updated 09:15 pm EDT, Thu October 20, 2011
Sony lead Hirai sees Apple as curse, help in games
Apple and Google have had a mixed effect on the PlayStation business, Sony Executive Deputy President Kaz Hirai said in an interview at AsiaD. He wouldn't say how much damage had been done but conceded that iOS and Android devices had cut into the overall industry. Sony has both introduced a very cheap PSP and encouraged small downloadable PSP Mini games in an attempt to curb Apple with little success, something which he indirectly touched on in the scope of his response.
"Whether we are talking about iPods, iPads or any Android, they've had an impact on the traditional video game business, no question about it," he said.
At the same time, he echoed the company's US PlayStation head Jack Tretton in seeing Apple and Google as offering a gateway to mobile gaming. By exposing newcomers to gaming, MP3 players, phones, and tablets were opening the door to the upcoming PS Vita. It had hardware controls and other features conducive to traditional gaming, and Sony didn't need to get a large portion of that group to graduate from an iPod touch to improve its standing. "If we can convert even a small percentage of those players... then we have also gained," he explained.
As for Sony's own actions to counter Apple, he pointed both to pre-order demand for the Vita triggering lineups and to the launches both in December for Japan and February for the US. His firm also had some of the PlayStation experience in the Xperia Play, Tablet S, and soon Tablet P, and was offering their PlayStation Suite platform to others.
Sony's PSP was already relatively small in the mobile gaming market, selling tens of thousands of units versus hundreds of thousands for Nintendo, but both have been impacted. Even a partial recovery for Nintendo has seen it drop from its peak DS sales roughly two years ago to where Microsoft's TV-focused Xbox 360 now regularly outsells it.