Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sony’s new handheld game player faces diminished prospects because of smart phones

EL SEGUNDO, INDIA: At a special PlayStation event held in Japan at the end of January, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan announced plans for its next-generation handheld gaming and multimedia device. The next-generation portable (NGP), as it is currently codenamed, represents a significant upgrade in technology across graphics capability, connectivity and interface compared to the original PlayStation Portable (PSP).

IHS believes that the market opportunity for a specialist device such as the NGP is shrinking rather than growing, and that short- and medium-term market conditions are less supportive of the release of a high-end handheld console. At the end of the fourth year after its release, the NGP is expected to accrue a total installed base of 22.8 million units. In comparison, the PSP achieved a base of 30.7 million, 34.8 percent higher, during the same length of time.

The competitive landscape for handheld and on-the-move gaming has been highly disrupted in recent times, with disruption occurring on the device, content and distribution levels. From a device perspective, smart phones are now aggressively intercepting a wide range of consumers further up what is described as the consumption chain.

The consumption chain is increasingly dominated by mainstream devices that are used for a wide range of everyday activities and that also happen to serve games content. On the move, this represents a convergence of activities into single devices, a trend that will result in usage away from specialist devices by the mainstream consumer and onto smart phones.

On smart phones, not only is games content plentiful, it is cheap as well. This combination will deliver a hammer blow to specialist devices like the NGP. The overlap between the average future NGP user—males aged 14 to 35 with high disposable income—as well as the high-end smart phone user is substantial. Because of this, IHS believes that the opportunity for NGP is narrowing, especially in Western markets.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

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