Round 1: PSP vs. iPod in Video

october 13, 2005

I was reviewing the release notes for the Sony PSP firmware 2.5 and found a tidbit in there to be quite interesting:

The market for downloadable video is just starting to get hot. Yesterday, Apple released an iPod with the ability to play encrypted videos that can be bought from the iTunes Music Store. Now, I am seeing a battle here between Sony and Apple. Sony already lost the downloadble music battle to Apple, but it doesn't have to lose the downloadable video battle to Apple. If Sony does right, then they have a good chance of winning. There are a couple of things that Sony has going for it right now as the battle heats up. First, they have a larger established base of PSP when compared to Apple iPod Videos. Second, the PSP has a much larger screen than the iPod Video -- and on top of that the PSP screen is 16x9 widescreen instead of 4x3. What difference does that make? A lot when you are going to be selling movies that are widescreen and that are going to be viewed on a smaller screen (imagine those black bars on the top and bottom of the iPod Video's 2.5" screen! The viewable video will look terrible!). Lastly, Sony has content, lots and lots of content. Don't forget that Sony owns quite a few movie studios and the content is ripe for distribution. Apple has only convinced Disney (and Job's own Pixar) for content -- no movie studios have signed on just yet. And the content that Apple has on iTunes consists of some short Pixar movies (no, no Incredibles for you yet), three ABC shows, two Disney Channel shows and a gazillion music videos. That is nothing impressive at this moment. Sony has an vault full of movies from Sony Pictures, Columbia, MGM and a few others. If Sony can pull this off, then they have enough content to crush Apple in downloadable video. Both devices have their own selling points. The iPod is a lot more portable than the PSP. The iPod has a hell of a lot more storage for about the same price as a PSP (30GB for $299). And the battery life (as low as it is) is better on the iPod than on the PSP. The PSP has (as mentioned above) a bigger screen. It has WiFi and a webbrowser. And, lets not forget, the PSP plays games -- although, right now there it is lacking a library of games to play. Of course, Sony can flub the execution and really screw up their chances -- look at how badly they screwed up portable digital music! Am I rooting for Sony? Most definitely, I think that they can do it. I look forward to see what will come from this battle!