I’ve never been a fan of hardware specific features for different regions for many different reasons – the most obvious one being that it makes little sense to offer superior devices for select areas which leaves your user base frustrated knowing that a better version of the product they want to purchase exists elsewhere. What a crummy feeling to know that you’re being penalized based on your geographic location and as it stands, US customers know this all too well with the last few iterations of Xperia handsets lacking a fingerprint sensor (though those have been turned off via software).
One of the biggest reasons PS4 has proven so successful is that from the beginning, Sony doubled down on hardcore gamers. Yes the PS4 had media features and other related stuff but all Sony wanted to talk about and did talk about was games. Now, four years into its life cycle, Sony is continuing to double down on that strategy by announcing PlayStation Tournaments that’s sure to get the interest of, you guessed it, hardcore gamers.
John Koller, Vice President, PlayStation Brand Marketing, SIEA writes on the PlayStation Blog:
You know what the British have on us Americans? Humor. Dry, dry humor and it’s absolutely one of the best things. Maybe I’m just anticipating the return of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May to Top Gear, I mean The Grand Tour, but when I ran across this video review of the Sony 24-70mm GM with pure British charm, I couldn’t help but post it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, because between the nuggets of humor are some outstanding pieces on what the massive lens can offer – and it’s brilliant.
One of the reasons PS VR has had such a successful launch thus far has been due to the massive catalogue of games it launched with – 31, to be exact, which is quite notable for an entirely new platform. Thanks to the large library of games and an easy way to get them – either through retail outlets like GameStop or the PlayStation Store – PS VR is going to be doing some serious business for developers.
Of course that number is a fraction of what developing for a traditional console/PC game will earn, but what’s notable here is how much more revenue PlayStation VR will be generating compared to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive which launched months ago. Yuji Nakamura writing for Bloomberg:
I’ve had a lot to say about the Xperia Ear over the past two weeks. Not only do I not find them competitive enough against Apple AirPods, but also priced exuberantly higher with wacky promos that almost nobody can partake in. It’s not that I find the product idea bad – in fact, I believe digital assistant-driven products will be for the next decade what mobile was for the last decade – but I’m not exactly sure who Sony is targeting with Xperia Ear and unlike Samsung with a boatload of cash on hand, Sony can’t afford the business strategy of throwing products at the wall in the hopes of one of them sticking.
Recently, Sony has released a video series meant to highlight what Xperia Ear can offer. Here is how they describe the first video:
I never quite realized this but we hadn’t heard about the fate of the Xperia XZ in Japan till now. We had all correctly assumed that it would arrive at some point but when and to which carriers has been a bit of a mystery. In fact ironically, despite the US being one of the lowest selling countries for Sony, the Xperia XZ has already been released here. But as they say, good things come to those who wait and that’s certainly true for Xperia fans in Japan.
When PS4 released, it had one clear goal in mind – to be the ultimate gaming machine, and that was quite apparent long before the console ever launched with every exec talking about one thing: games. This was quite the different tone from its predecessor, the PS3, a console that was all about the ultimate everything machine. From games, to 3D movies, Blu-ray, streaming, and anything else you can think of. But as you and I know, there is a lot more we use our consoles for than just games, namely streaming content and to that end, Sony has been steadily bolstering what PS4 can do. A big part of that has been ramping up their own streaming service, PS Vue, but another part of that strategy has been to bring as many media apps as possible.
Like a lot of you, at each event like MWC or IFA, I hope Sony has a “one more thing” surprise for us and it’s the Xperia Z5 Tablet. Announced on March 2nd, 2015, the Xperia Z4 Tablet is one of the most profound modern devices Sony has ever made. Sleek, lightweight, and powerful but none of that does the tablet justice.
Its gorgeous 2K screen sits on top of an effortlessly thin 10.1 display that’s easily the best Android tablet ever built. Though not as functional as an iPad Pro, if there were to be an Android version of it, Sony had already built it. Whether you wanted to entertain yourself or get work done, the Xperia Z4 Tablet was the right choice. No surprise though that with little marketing from Sony and almost no real support from Google who never took tablets serious with Android, the Xperia Z4 Tablet didn’t sell well which could explain why we’ve never seen a Z5 Tablet. But as it turns out, perhaps the issue is less about what Sony.
For those taking taking part in the Xperia Concept program, Sony has released a new build (MOB31E.Z1.3657). If you’re unfamiliar with the program, it’s basically
a beta initiative enabling Xperia users to trial concept software builds for Xperia devices.
As for what the new build brings with it, Xperia Blog writes:
Earlier this month, Sony announced pricing for the Xperia Ear in Japan at 19,880 Yen (£150, €170, $190), and its European pricing falls right in line at £179 in the UK and €199 across mainland Europe. Unless priced dramatically lower, I’ve already written why Apple’s AirPods are going to give the Xperia Ear a lot of trouble and the pricing revealed for Europe only further reaffirms my beliefs.
When the PS4 Pro was announced in September, some were miffed by Sony’s decision to exclude a 4K Blu-ray drive. I had then written a fairly extensive piece on why the PS4 Pro didn’t need such a drive (which would only add to its price) and that streaming was/is the future of 4K adoption. Now, What Hi-Fi?, the mega home theater site, has weighed in on the topic though not directly stating there is a lack of need for the PS4 Pro to have a 4K drive or speaking out against 4K Blu-ray drives in general. Instead, they’ve given their Netflix 4K review. What Hi-Fi? writes:
But there’s a stack of 4K content available right now, from Breaking Bad to House of Cards, and more will inevitably follow.
In terms of content – bespoke content in particular – Netflix distances itself from any nominal competition.
And if you have an HDR (High Dynamic Range) compatible TV, there’s some HDR content on Netflix too. It’s not immediately obvious, as there isn’t an HDR section anywhere in the menus, but if you type HDR into the search box you’ll find a list of HDR content such as Bloodline, Marco Polo and Marvel’s Daredevil. You’ll see an HDR or Dolby Vision logo on relevant material.
They said VR wouldn’t sell and if it does, not in high volumes. Sony begs to differ – Jim Ryan, president and chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe talking with CNBC:
We know that the replenishment cycle is a good one, production is going exactly as we anticipated. We have made decisions to further increase capacity at the back end of 2016 and into 2017, so there are going to be a lot of PlayStation VRs around the world, whether that’s enough to satisfy the demands of the market, we’ll see
A bit of news has broken out in the past 48 hours that would see Sony develop PlayStation games from the ground up for iOS and Android. The move now makes even more sense than ever after Nintendo debuted Pokemon Go for mobile and added billions to their valuation. Mitchel Broussard writing for MacRumors:
At the time of that announcement, the company hadn’t detailed the launch plan, or specified how many games it wanted to create, so today marks the first time it talks about its smartphone gaming plans since then. Known in March and reiterated today, the Sony iOS and Android games will first hit Japan and other Asian countries, with the expectation being that each game will then slowly rollout wider after the initial release.
And here is the weird part, which Broussard notes – none of this is news as it was all announced way back in March. This is what I’d written then:
With Samsung having recalled the Galaxy Note 7 line in all markets (which will cost the company north of $3 billion), Sony Mobile is ready to step in and fill the hole left by the leading Android OEM. How, you ask? By releasing a Deep Pink color as an exclusive in the UK. According to Xperia Blog:
In the past, the video game industry has generally relied on selling consoles during their initial first few years on the market at a loss while retaining some profits from license fees on each software sold. Eventually with enough consoles in consumer hands, not only would the intake from licensing fees dramatically increase, but money could finally be made from each sold console due to component costs decreasing as well. This scenario played especially true during the PS3 era where the console launched at $599, a price seen as too high for many gamers and Sony was still losing north of $300 on each unit it pushed out.