Sony recently told Sony that they couldn’t use the PSP brand in a phone, as they have done with their Powershot (camera) and Walkman (cassette-tape player) lines. The market for cassette-tape playing phones is quite huge actually.
This is a pretty smart move by Sony – it prevents watering down of the lately-beleaguered Playstation brand, and prevents consumer confusion. A PSP phone would out of necessity have different hardware from the PSP, and they wouldn’t be able to play most of the same games, which could leave people angry and bewildered. It also keeps another damn game console off of the streets in an increasingly overcrowded market, during a time when people have less and less disposable income.
I worry sometimes that we’re forgetting our history. You can’t make a direct comparison between the game market in the early 1980s and the market now – much more than novelties, current games are increasingly sophisticated in content and appearance. Still, some of the same symptoms that plagued the market in the 80s (for reference, the game market crashed hard in 1983, and was only saved by the efforts of a certain company and its stalwart mascot) are beginning to manifest themselves again. We have about six dedicated game machines from the three major companies, plus the PC, and others are trying to shoehorn their own devices into the market all the time. Look at all of the consoles released in the 70s and 80s – it can only sustain so many systems simultaneously. Everyone and their mother is also releasing software into the industry, making it harder to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Are we in trouble yet? No, and we also can’t count out the wildcard casual market, which refuses to accede to the dismal expectations “hardcore” gamers have for it. People do have to start drawing lines somewhere, though, and I’m glad Sony has the common sense not to pledge support for a fourth Playstation product right now.