Sony at CES 2006

By Chris Remo, Jan 05, 2006 11:40am PST Here at CES 2006, Sony held a press conference yesterday and a keynote address today, both focused on Sony's "four pillars" of e-entertainment. The most relevant of those pillars to Shack readers, the PlayStation pillar, was sadly the one given the least attention by the various Sony executives speaking to the CES audience. Like Microsoft's keynote last night, almost all of the attention has been on how the company is making it easier for customers to experience various kinds of digital content; both companies seem desperate to outdo each other (and Apple) in that regard.

Discussion about the PS3 was even more scarce, with the upcoming next-gen console not so much as even mentioned in yesterday's press conference. In today's keynote delivered by new CEO Sir Howard Stringer, however, SCEA president Kaz Hirai came onstage to deliver some praise for PS2 and show some demo footage of upcoming PS3 games. The footage was the same as what was seen at last year's E3, including Gran Turismo, MotorStorm, Lair, Warhawk, and Formula 1. Sony's expo booth has footage of some other games such as Unreal Tournament 2007, the upcoming Tekken game, The Getaway 3, Fight Night Round 3 and a few others. Photos of the console also featured the previously announced boomerang-esque controller, contradicting rumors that Sony would show a newly designed controller at the show.

More time was spent talking about the success of PS2 and PSP. While there was understandably no actual news about PS2, with most of the talk about the machine being on its continually strong sales and continued market dominance, Sony did seem very interested in bolstering the media capabilities of the PSP. First off, Sony talked up the device's recently-added LocationFree technology, which allows the PSP to stream video content wirelessly on the go from your LocationFree Base Station anywhere around the world (which usually means "in your house"). LocationFree technology has generally been rather expensive, with the Base Station retailing for about $350, but Sony seemed to suggest that a lower-cost model is in the works. Sony also spoke about its Connect music and video content download service, which will begin supporting PSP in March. Connect was launched last year, but it has not become the success Sony intended. Clearly, Sony is confident in the media capabilities of the PSP and hopes it will invigorate Connect; a company representative noted that the device has 250 movies and TV shows available on UMD compared to 70 games, and the system has driven demand for Sony's Memory Stick storage format.

The heavy hype on PS2 and PSP and comparitavely little about PS3--even when discussing Blu-ray, which last year Sony seemed to suggest would be primarily driven by PS3 in the early phases--has led some to speculate a delayed launch for the console. GameShout reports that Sony is currently claiming a May release for the console, which does just barely make the Spring 2006 date Sony has been promising for months. It is likely that Sony wants to launch PS3 as early as possible in Japan to ensure that it will be out by the holiday season in North America. If it does in fact see release in May, I expect we'll see it over here in the late Fall, with Europe still something of an unknown quantity.

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