Talk about kicking something when it's down. Microsoft's entertainment boss Robbie Bach has become the latest big name to come out with criticism of PSP. Speaking about Microsoft's Zune in an interview Venture Beat, Bach has voiced his opinion there are lessons to learn from Sony's handheld – highlighting the console's lack of original games and local storage in particular.
"The PSP is a reasonably successful product at the profit-and-loss level," he says. "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. 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."
The PS2 reference seems a little harsh and in need of updating, but Bach continues by comparing Zune to PSP, and pointing out where Microsoft's product will differ and improve on what Sony's has to offer.
"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. I don't think of Zune like the PSP. The PSP is a game player that also does video and music. We think of Zune as a broad-based entertainment device."
The two products are undoubtedly different, with PSP designed as a games console first and foremost. At least in our view. Which is why we (cautiously) join the many people out there who disagree with Sony's decision to introduce new applications and uses for PSP which seem to be diluting its impact as a games console.
Then again, you could argue whether users would prefer Sony wasn't constantly improving the functionality of the console? PSP might be suffering from a bit of an identity crisis in terms of marketing but no one can dispute owners are at least being offered plenty of choice. While they wait for more games to turn up.
And the point is that if it had more games, the multimedia facet wouldn't even get brought into discussion as criticism – it would simply be an additional component for those wishing to exploit it.