Microsoft's Zune may learn from PSP 'cautionary tales'
Zune, Microsoft's current music player, can play both music and video -- but will it ever play games? Perhaps. Microsoft's Robbie Bach spoke with Dean Takahashi on VentureBeat, and had a few things to say about what they're learning from the PSP. "The PSP is a reasonably successful product at the profit-and-loss level. But as a product concept, there are cautionary tales to learn from it. While it is good at producing audio, it's not a good music player because it doesn't have local storage (except for flash memory slots). You can't keep your music there. It has a beautiful screen, but you can only get the video under the Universal Media Disc format. That format hasn't been successful. On a game level, it has done well. But even there, it is mostly PlayStation 2 ports. There isn't much original content."
Bach's comments ring of some truth, but they seem to based on the image set by Sony during the PSP launch. Since then, PSP can run full-resolution video off Memory Stick (although there are still a number of arbitrary restrictions on video playback). PSP has gained a number of original non-ported games, but it must still fend off the image that it doesn't have original content. "When you do these devices, they can't be pretty good at a lot of things. They need to be great at what they do. Zune is a great music player. We have local storage, a marketplace, the social network. We didn't do video right out of the gate because you want to do those things in a high-quality way. Same thing in the gaming space. It is technically possible to do games on there. But you aren't going to see a broad gaming effort from us until we sort that through and have it figured out."
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Reader Comments (Page 1 of 2)
6-13-2008 @ 2:39PM
The PSP in JAPAN has garnered original, non-ported games. In the USA, we're mostly relegated to stripped down ports of console stuff that are mostly sequels of previous franchise games in the first place.
The PSP in Japan also has good online support, streaming TV and GPS, among several other accessories. The USA support by comparison is abysmal.
Note how the PSP is doing there vs. here.
End of lesson.
6-13-2008 @ 2:42PM
Eh? What is pspfanboy on about?
The Zune is gaming capable. XNA3.0 allows you to make games for it.
Although they can only be 2D, and will be incredibly rubbish :)
The PSP has been a success, but anyone who releases a handheld gaming device has to fight Nintendo. It's like a geek in the ring with Mike Tyson.
6-13-2008 @ 3:16PM
Or Uwe Boll...
6-13-2008 @ 2:58PM
Before hitting PSPfanboy, I just finished looking at a bunch of Zune sites... weird coincidence that caused me to double-take!
Quote: "It has a beautiful screen, but you can only get the video under the Universal Media Disc format."
That's completely wrong. Same with the 'can't store music because it only has flash memory' comment. I've had songs on my PSP for a year sitting on my memory stick. It's not like it disappears when the PSP is turned off!
And the proprietary video format problem applies to the Zune too. Sure, it plays more formats, but not many more-- it's still limited, and the Zune is very proprietary, as much as the PSP.
And even though PSP isn't a "music player" (yeah right) I can GUARANTEE that it has music functions that the Zune doesn't have.
There's so much misinformation in his comments about the PSP, he clearly doesn't know what he's talking about.
6-14-2008 @ 8:00PM
Zune is far more proprietary. It doesn't even use a standard USB cable. You can't use it as a USB harddrive. You MUST use the Zune software. These are big reasons why I hate my Zune with a fiery passion.
6-13-2008 @ 3:08PM
wow are they just looking at the first year of the PSP life, cause things sure have changed. There are a bunch of original PSP titles that can stand toe to toe with any console title (Syphon filter series, Jeanna D'arc, Mpo, Socom FTB 1 and 2, Socom Tactical Strike).
The PSP is a good music and video player, sure the PSP lack internal memory so you have to keep buying memory stick but the quality is great. There a nice selection for music format the PSP can use plus the PSP 2000 models can be connected to a Tv.
And everybody know that it's going to be a battle to make a successful handheld Nintendo has crushed so many, Sega, Atari, NeoGeo, have all tried and failed, Sony is really making a go at it.
Yeah there is room for improvement and lessons to be learned, but if nobody try how are we every going to know what works. Zune tried to take on the iPod and see how it's an uphill battle, Sony takes on Nintendo and has had some success.
6-13-2008 @ 3:13PM
Zune's in the same boat. More features, larger screen, still getting its ass handed to it by the iPod. Being a newcomer to an established market is always difficult.
6-13-2008 @ 3:27PM
I don't mind the music system/video system on the psp. It was meant to be a games device, and it has succeded (In a way). The other media is a bonus, which I love and use.
Also, the psp is Sony's first hand held, so I think they have pulled off quite a feat.
People buy DS's and Wii's, because of interaction, but most people I know grow bored of it quite quickly.
(+[____]X) -PlayStation Portable
6-13-2008 @ 3:28PM
honestly the guy has a point. what we need is more support from third party developers. if they took a risk and made a great game and actually advertised it, then more people would be attracted to the psp. and games that people actually would be familiar with like a new sly cooper or ratchet & clank would definitely help. and more ps store support with original non-game music and a video store along with more original games like echochrome and more ps1 games would be a great move for sony but no one ever thinks like that so oh well...
6-13-2008 @ 3:32PM
@Don - What music features does the PSP have that the Zune doesn't have? The Zune is a music device first, the PSP is a music device last. In every department the Zune would beat the PSP in terms of music.
Why no mention of the XNA compatibility with the Zune in this article?? The Zune is capable of playing games - just basic, 2d, and mostly boring ones. I don't think anything will ever get up to the standards of the PSP in terms of gaming.
6-13-2008 @ 5:06PM
It's true that both devices have different emphasis on music playback, but the PSP has some features that aren't on the Zune:
-USB mass storage class: I use a STANDARD USB cable, hook my PSP up, and it's seen as a drive to load content onto. I'm running Windows XP on my PC, but it'd probably be the same for users using Macs, or Linux, etc. Ask one of those users how running a Zune would be on their systems?
-A-B repeat feature: being able to select any portion of a music file, and repeat it. Most people probably don't use it, but the PSP has it & Zune don't.
-No Proprietary software needed. I don't have to install an iTunes or Zune management software, as I would with a Zune, just to load content onto my PSP! I'm dealing with the hassles of syncing (with another player I recently got) and it's such a pain to make sure that something is deleted from both your player *AND* your PC software playlist or else it GETS PUT BACK ON even if you delete it from your device when you hook your device up to your PC.
I'm not saying the PSP is a better music player than something that's more dedicated to being a music player, but those are some of the features that the PSP has that the Zune doesn't. Maybe you don't value those features, but some people do.
6-14-2008 @ 12:06PM
@Don "USB Mass Storage Class"
I've actually started using my PSP as a music player more despite owning 2 smaller MP3 players for this very reason. I've already got it attached via USB to charge, so I can just drop a podcast or whatever I want onto it and be done. No bull, I like it.
6-14-2008 @ 2:52PM
Zune has no equalizer, no goto point for videos, no visualizations, no streaming video over wifi, no internet radio, no podcast support (without the use of a PC) you can't delete files without the use of a PC. There are TONS of features PSP has that Zune doesnt
6-13-2008 @ 3:43PM
oh dang i didnt know this was the zune blog. i thought this was www.pspfanboy.com
6-13-2008 @ 8:46PM
And the Zune is available outside of Japan! I thought this was the Japanese gaming blog.....
6-13-2008 @ 5:17PM
Hey Nintendo Tool, Sony has done a lot better than "met moderate success with the PSP"
6-14-2008 @ 10:58AM
Dr Haisook said...
Why compare the Sony PSP with any other device (including Nintendo's DS)? The PSP is a revolutionary device in its own league. Many people did not fully realize its power. I think it's ahead of its time, as usual with Sony products.
Nintendo DS, being a colorful toy, sells more simply because kids who play video games are more than adults who play video games. The Sony PSP sells less for pretty much the same reason. It has nothing with the PSP being inferior.
6-14-2008 @ 6:31PM
Both were designed to play games, and more importanly sell units, it's just that Nintendo got it o tell people that they and Sony got it wrong . Just like the PS3. Two types of people buy consoles - people who wan tto have fun playing games, and sad friendless losers who want to brag to people that they have the 'most powerful' console... hilarious;-)
6-14-2008 @ 6:25PM
Why would anybody be interested in the views of somebody who works for the biggest joke in technology?
6-15-2008 @ 11:49AM
Mr Bach's comments on the PSP are a bit antiquated, but that's simply Sony's problem there; overall, the general feeling is that it does do games particularly well, and other things less well or at least less easily and therefore less commonly used.
Anyway, I would say that's an accurate statement for how the market use the PSP; games first and foremost, other things a bit of a bonus and a distant second and third.
Selling Memory Sticks at double the market value per gigabyte is part of the problem there, I might add.
Microsoft's strategy with Zune is an 'entertainment device'. That's fine, and a good, more broad strategy to have. Services side getting lots of investment, hoping to get partners interested in making deals with their system... etc. All sound strategies and quite possibly long-term big money-making strategies provided they get the volumes selling they want.
One thing I will never be doing is buying a device that:
1) sounds worse than the PSP (audio is great on the PSP)
2) has non-removable batteries (PSP; removable)
3) lacks native Mass Storage drag-n-drop for playable music on the device, and allows two-way transfers to virtually any computer just like a regular USB stick (yay PSP)
4) I also have no interest in buying their commercial tunes, or in fact, lossy formats. (neither on PSP)
So perhaps I'm gonna be a non-Zuner for a long, long time. The way I see things, PSP just needs sanely-priced flash and an easy app to put videos and audio on there for the masses (but still allowing drag n drop of course). When I say easier, i mean better than the tosh they are currently offering:
Extremely buggy on Vista, FWIW.
Not that I care, really. But yeah, online services for PSP and a bit more marketing communicating what ELSE it can do would be great for them, I feel.
As far as 'entertainment devices' go, Sony's hardware is far more preferable to me than current Microsoft offerings.