The Lessons of the PS3
Posted by Jeff as Marketing
The PS3 is a full blown disaster for Sony on several levels. First and foremost, I can’t figure out why the hell I would want to shell out $600 for a game console that basically does what the Xbox360 does for a lot less – play great games. It has a Blu Ray DVD player, whoop de frickin doo… that isn’t making my game experience any better and in a year Blu Ray and HD-DVD players are going to be a couple hundred bucks so why rush in now?
Speaking of Blu Ray, the failure of the PS3 hit the mark has implications for Sony’s fight with Toshiba and their HD-DVD standard. Sony was really counting on a market seeding effect generated by PS3 sales to push them over the tipping point and establish Blu Ray as the default HD standard for DVD. Clearly they have to be rethinking that strategy at this point.
Sony is an interesting case study in the declining half-life of “it” companies, which Sony clearly was for most of the late 1980′s and 1990′s but today they are more known for rootkits, exploding batteries, and stunning inability to come up with anything that can effectively compete with Apple’s iPod and ITMS despite having created the portable music category with the brand equivalent of kleenex – the walkman.
Here’s my casual observation on what they did wrong:
1) Underestimated how competitive Microsoft is and by giving them a full year head start they pretty much exposed the arrogance of their corporate DNA which believed that they made the market on their time.
2) Failed to promote a healthy ecosystem. The game console doesn’t mean jack without great games and Sony should have been working overtime to spread the love among their game developers. What they did was simply expect their developer community to step up because, after all, it’s the Sony Playstation.
3) Gamers are moving online and Sony’s online efforts really don’t live up to what the competition has. Also, Sony Connect is an embarrassment.
4) Sony still thinks their market is hardcore gamers and teenage boys when in fact the demographics consistently point to a older and increasingly female market. Market to the mass market like Nintendo is doing.
5) The Nintendo Wii outsold the PS3 with an innovative controller and a very slick marketing campaign that featured games everyone could like. It’s that ecosystem thing again.
6) Where’s the tie-in with the PSP? I have a PSP and really dig it even though the games are spotty and Sony wants to lock you in by turning off all the hacked features as soon as they become available. That’s a whole other blog post that I’ve written a couple of times already.
7) The fact that I’d spend $500 on an Apple iPhone that hasn’t even launched yet before I’d shell out basically the same $$ on a full blown bad-ass game console pretty much sums up how badly Sony has stumbled on this very important product.
The PS3 hasnâ€™t performed as well as expected. In fact, since E3 last year, not much has actually gone Sonyâ€™s way. There was the removal of features, loss of exclusives, extreme price and severe supply constraintâ€¦ and thatâ€™s just leading up to the launch. Once November 17th rolled around, there were people camping outside of Best Buy to get PS3s so that they could scalp them on eBay for extreme prices, and that worked for a while. Then buyers got sick of paying for a system with one semi-desirable game, a blu-ray player with questionable usefulness and a really bad PS2 emulator.