|The PlayStation Portable is also a music player that Sony hopes will compete with Apple's iPod.
Nov. 22, 2004
NINTENDO LAUNCHES GROUNDBREAKING NEW GAME UNIT
Beats Sony to Market With New Generation Handheld Product
The advance buzz is part of Sony's marketing plan to create interest in its new handheld gaming system as the electronics giant looks to do battle with gaming rival Nintendo.
Marketing and communications
"Marketing and communications are critical," said Andrew House, executive vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment America. "We've set out with the PSP to establish a new brand voice. ... I told my team, 'We are now officially in the fashion business.'"
To that end, Sony held a fashion accessories pre-launch show last week, and launched the game unit last night with a party at the flagship Sony Style store in Manhattan, hosted by former MTV personality Carson Daly, who will also host a new weekday radio show called PSP Radio.
Nintendo has dominated the field of handheld gaming since gaining wide popularity with a Mario Brothers game. It sold 8 million of its current handheld GameBoy units in 2003 and it expected to sell another 8 million last year. Sega attempted to compete against it but dropped away unsuccessfully. Now Sony is taking its best shot.
Hefty price tag
The PSP carries a hefty launch price of $249, especially when compared to the Nintendo DS handheld game system that sells for $100 less. Nintendo rolled out the DS (for "dual screen") gaming system last fall in time for the holiday season -- and to hit stores before Sony.
But Sony is selling the PSP as more than just a gaming device. Sony developed an optical disc format called Universal Media Disc, which is similar to a DVD, exclusively for the portable game console. Sony is releasing a lineup of movie titles from Sony's movie unit, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, for the PSP. (The movie that will ship bundled with the American version of the PSP will be Spider-Man 2.) Walt Disney Co. and Lion's Gate said they will put movies on the UMD format.
Users can also watch movies and download music and photos.
Sony said it sees the new PSP handset, which also has 3D graphics and built-in wireless networking, as a "potential breakthrough for digital media."
Sony is going to tout "multi-functionality" as a key characteristic of the device. Two TV spots created for the launch by Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Los Angeles, straddle the target audience: one commercial is meant to appeal to hardcore gamers, and the other pushes the potential of the PSP to show movies and play music along with gaming.