Archive for 7th February 2007

Crazy Ideas: Forget the PS3, Push the PS2!

By now, everybody has heard about the PS3 being only luke-warm. Sony has had their eye on the wrong ball. Sony should have pushed the PS2 harder than they’ve ever pushed any console rather than launch the PS3. Allow me to explain.

There are many reports that the PS2 is still dominating.

Sony sold 1.4 million PlayStation 2 (PS2) consoles in the United States in December, compared with only 491,000 of the PlayStation 3 (PS3) model…

Meanwhile, buyers snapped up 1.1 million Xbox 360s and 604,000 of the family-oriented Wii consoles made by Nintendo.

So in other words, even with virtually no marketing, the PS2 is outselling the Wii, Xbox, and PS3! People have been focusing so much on the “next-gen” that nobody stopped to wonder if the last war is really over. Besides, what makes a system “next gen?” New games? PS2 has that. Better graphics? The Wii and Xbox are destroying the PS3, which is supposedly the most powerful machine out there.

Pretend for a moment that Sony decides to push the PS2 with renewed vigor. After all, the PS2 beat the 360 every single month last year. Why is it that Sony can’t continue this momentum? It doesn’t matter if Xbox has 10 or even 30 million consoles out there. Sony has shipped over 115 million PS2 consoles and sold at a rate 50% greater than 360 sales last year. That’s nearly one PS2 for every 55 man, woman, and child in the entire world! They have a library of over 7,000 games. Since there have been 1.2 billion games sold for the PS2, that works out to an average of 10 game purchases for each PS2.

The problem is that Sony is hung up on this whole “next-gen” concept that they don’t even realize they have no reason to start a new war! The fact that their “outdated” console is out-selling everybody else shows that they could have sat back on the PS2 for another year or two.

If they’re so keen on the Blu-Ray, they should just drop the price of the regular PS2 to $99, and create a new Blu-Ray version for $300. Seeing as the Wii and PS2 are roughly equivalent in power, trying to convince someone to pay a $50 markup over the Wii is much easier than convincing them of a $200 markup over the 360. Additionally, even if they take a $100 loss for each Blu-PS2 they sell (you heard the term here first!), the 10-1 game ratio would pad the losses a lot faster than the crappy 2:1 ratio the PS3 has been seeing.

Sony should embrace their PS2, polish it up with some new case colors, maybe a built in wireless card, slim it down, and re-release it. In the end, consumers care about games, not the power of the CPU. The PS2′s gaming library is the undisputed champion of that race. I’m not saying they should never release a new system. I’m saying they shouldn’t sideline their current best seller.

Lastly, let’s discuss publisher support, which is how I even came to this idea. The PS2 is a well understood system with a huge developer base that understands how to maximize its potential. It is still releasing new games at as fast a rate as ever. And its market reach is greater than the sum of all of its competitors combined. Developing a hit game for the PS2 is guaranteed mass market penetration, whereas the current next-gen consoles are still somewhat of a risk. In other words, there is a great appeal that still exists with developing on the PS2.

With the PS2 dominating the market even harder than it is now, Sony could have taken a lot of steam out of its competitors with phrases like, “Buy our PS2 and 10 games for the price of a 360!” Then, after the buzz is all gone, Sony could have launched their PS3 at their own leisure on a separate year than Nintendo or Microsoft. As the dominant leader, Sony should have set its own schedule rather than letting Microsoft set the pace of the next-gen race.

Sony should have finished milking the PS2. Sony could have taken their sweet time and let the PS3 technology drop in price and nurture the software lineup. They could have launched their system with a library of 50 games, but instead, they rushed it with only eight launch titles. By letting the PS3 brand flounder, they risk losing their actual next gen market forever since lagging console sales makes publishers flee, which causes further lagging console sales. In short, the PS3 was released a year too early because Sony got impatient.

Microsoft’s greatest victory was making Sony doubt the PS2′s ability to keep up its steam.

And Sony stumbled.

This Just In: RIAA Has to Pay Legal Expenses of Innocent Defendant

Here’s some great news for your RIAA haters (um, that’s probably everybody): Debbie Foster, the woman who was wrongfully sued by the RIAA has won her attorney’s fees.

In his ruling, Judge West found that the RIAA had asserted an untested and marginal theory that veered toward “frivolous and unreasonable” by suing Foster for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement…

This is important news because this sort of precedent will help make other lawsuit defendants more likely to fight it out to the end. This will hopefully be the crack that shatters the dam. We’ll see.

Facebook + TV = “Facebook Diaries”

Facebook has just inked a deal with Comcast to produce and distribute a new show called Facebook Diaries. The idea is that Facebook users would submit videos around a specific topic and then the best ones get selected to be shown on the show.

Users will be encouraged to submit videos around themes such as “who am I?” “heartbreak,” and “life during wartime,” Cutler said. The best ones will land in “Facebook Diaries.”

The show would be available both on the Internet and on TV through Comcast’s Video on Demand service – the first of its kind.

This is the lamest idea I’ve ever seen Facebook try. It’s painful to know that the entire premise is to consolidate 20 or 30 otherwise mundane YouTube clips into an ad-laced half hour long show. It’s strange that they’ve already planned a 10 episode season.

But it’s outright moronic that they decided to side-step YouTube! In a psychotic move, Facebook has chosen the Comcast sponsored video site Ziddio - A domain name that so badly resembling “Video with a Z”, that they had to buy Ziddeo.com just to make sure you don’t misspell it (which I did – twice). Its also slow, which is amazing for it being owned by Comcast. And lastly, its video player’s interface is plain terrible. Go ahead. Visit their site. Wait 10 seconds for it to load. Watch in horror as a really crappy clip starts to automatically play. Now try to change the volume. Be shocked at how bad a video player interface can be done.

just crappy.

Why would you produce online content only to have it hosted by a (crappy) no-name video hosting site? We already know if the show is even half decent, users will just post it up on YouTube within the hour anyway. But even worse, if the show is half-crappy, nobody will ever bother to see it.

Why would they do this? Perhaps they got blinded by the idea of being able to have their precious TV show appear on Comcast’s Video on Demand service. Whereas had it been a sponsored channel on YouTube, whose primary demographic is shared by Facebook, it would have been seen by virtually everybody on YouTube at least once (even if the show sucked).

Perhaps Google (Okurt) or YouTube is somehow seen as a competitor to Facebook. Maybe Google’s ads don’t pay well. Perhaps Zuckerberg just loves to smoke crack. Either way, this show already reeks of failure.

Google Finally Commits to Fighting Microsoft

Google is finally saying “I do” to online productivity suites. Google has been beta testing a new service called Google Apps for Your Domain – a service that lets companies use Google email accounts with their own domains. Additionally, it bundles a customized start page, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and Google Page Creator. Now, they’re about to add more products to this service, including:

  • Word-Processor
  • Spread Sheets

These last two additions are a clearly challenges to Microsoft’s Office suite.

This new service will supposedly cost only a few dollars per user per month. Apparently this beta product is already quite popular.

It’s testament to Google’s popularity that even though Google Apps is still in trial mode, hundreds of thousands of users at thousands of organizations are already using it. That includes a few big ones. Arizona State University plans to switch most of its 65,000 students to Gmail, Google Calendar, and a customized “start page” this month.

It’s strange that Google has opted to charge for this service. Google has come so far by giving away most of its products. Charging for this suite is a stark change in philosophy. By hosting documents, emails, chats, home page preferences, and search requests you’d think Google would have no need to charge more for its service.

But then again, perhaps the issue is that businesses typically don’t trust “free,” much like how open source got the cold shoulder for many years before catching on as it did today (IBM, Novell, Redhat, etc.). So maybe the goal here is to charge enough so that it’s not looked at like a cheap gimmick, but not so much that it becomes substantial.

If Microsoft doesn’t make a move into the online office suite soon, they may find that their share of the pie significantly smaller than they had hoped. After all, business users are all about momentum and using what works. Just go to your local bank to see how averse businesses are to changing their software (they still use black and white keyboard applications). Microsoft knows this best since it’s what keeps them so dominant in the first place. Virtually every customer that Google gets now is a permanent customer now and forever.

And yet, Microsoft can’t spring into action without potentially cannibalizing their desktop Office market (their #2 cash cow after Windows itself). We should expect a response from Microsoft in 2008 with their next version of Office, I imagine. It will likely integrate with a desktop Office to create a new hybrid online-desktop application. But that may become a complicated endeavor if Vista’s sales among businesses continues to drag its feet.