Sony and PS3. Looking good

Being a hardware platform holder is not easy, there are so many pressures waiting to destroy you, technology, competition, piracy, fashion. So, over the years we have seen many platform holders leave the arena, Atari, Sega, Sinclair, Amstrad, Acorn, Commodore and many more. Each loss weakens gaming. Every platform holder is precious and adds to our industry.

Two years ago it looked, very worryingly, as if Sony were headed to join the others in the graveyard, they had gone from owning the PS2 generation to making just about every mistake possible in the PS3 generation. I wrote articles on here itemising what they were doing wrong. And it wasn’t just Playstation that was in trouble, Sony the corporation was also having massive problems. And Sony has led consumer electronics for half a century, so it was not good for anyone.

Nintendo are an entertainment company, Microsoft are a software company and Apple are a marketing company. Sony, however, are a manufacturing company so their solutions to the PS3s problems came firstly from manufacturing. The PS3 was obscenely expensive to manufacture, the unit loss hit that Sony was taking was untenable and unsustainable. So they quickly re-engineered it taking out many features, including backwards compatibility. After this they were still taking a huge unit loss, but not one that would kill them. Then last year they made another big manufacturing step change with the Slim, this gave them enough leeway to do a little to become more competitive with retail pricing, but they were still taking a hit on every machine.

Underneath the skin the PS3 was following Moore’s law with the chips starting out using 90nm fabrication, this moved to 65nm in 2007, then 45 nm with the slim, which reduces the silicon acreage by 75% compared to the original machines.

Sony Chief Financial Officer Nobuyuki Oneda says that they are still making a loss on every PS3 sold, but now it is just a paltry $18. But with an attach rate of around 8 games for every PS3 sold Sony are now making an overall profit out of every new PS3 owner, which is what we want for the health of the game industry. And it isn’t just the PS3 that is making a profit, Sony as a whole are. They finally made an overall profit in the last three months of 2009, after 5 consecutive quarters of losses.

I started writing about this hardware based turnaround and the new optimism this brought to Sony last August. And about Howard Stringer’s (Sony’s CEO) actions to bring this about last May. Even further back in August 2008 I wrote an article about how Sony would recover from their disaster. So regular readers here will not be surprised by the turnaround.

But still Sony seem set to come third in this generation of home console, behind Microsoft and Nintendo, just because of momentum, if nothing else. Sony still rake in profits from PS2 and PSP so overall they are very healthy indeed.

Sony are still massively well placed for the future, they have the brand and the heritage and everything that goes with it. But they do need to get their finger out with smartphones. In just a few years time more of the computing power on earth will be in smartphones than in desk top computers, over a billion a year will be shipped. So they will become the main gaming device. Currently Apple, Android and Nokia are running away with the market. But Sony are uniquely positioned to challenge this, with the PSP they have built an understanding of mobile gaming and they have a large mobile phone division. Let’s hope they have the insight to convert these assets into platforms.

17 comments ↓

#1 JenniferRuth on 02.08.10 at 12:44 pm

This is an excellent, excellent article. But did you have to illustrate it with such a sexist image?

#2 Elroy Spooner on 02.08.10 at 2:06 pm

What exactly is sexist about that image? If your answer is because it’s an attractive model in lingerie I have to disagree, there is nothing at all sexist about it.

As defined by Wikipedia, sexism is:

“Sexism, a term coined in the mid-20th century,[1] is the belief or attitude that one gender or sex is inferior to, less competent, or less valuable than the other. It can also refer to hatred of, or prejudice towards, either sex as a whole (see misogyny and misandry), or the application of stereotypes of masculinity in relation to men, or of femininity in relation to women.[2] It is also called male and female chauvinism.”

#3 Spaz on 02.08.10 at 2:14 pm

I know you wrote something, but I kept on scrolling back up to look at that picture.

Does that controller come with a mute button?

Just asking.

#4 Ian Osborne on 02.08.10 at 2:26 pm

You don’t think portraying a woman as a toy, there to be played with by a man, suggests “one gender or sex is inferior to, less competent, or less valuable than the other”?

#5 JenniferRuth on 02.08.10 at 2:47 pm

What Ian said. I was objecting to a woman as a toy, the idea that anyone would want a human being to be a toy (see above “mute button” joke) and the fact that the image implies that games are just for (straight) men.

I should have asked Bruce via email and not in the comments though because I really don’t want to make this conversation all about that image.

On topic about Sony now making a profit, I wonder if that is partly because of all the great system-exclusive games they have had recently (and the ones coming up like Last Guardian)?

#6 Elroy Spooner on 02.08.10 at 3:06 pm

“You don’t think portraying a woman as a toy, there to be played with by a man, suggests “one gender or sex is inferior to, less competent, or less valuable than the other”?”

I think you people are reading way too much into this image and interpreting it through a lens of your own viewpoint on life that is way, way to sensitive to any suggestion of sexism frankly.

I don’t believe the implied message is either explicitly or implicitly suggesting that woman are inferior. In the spirit of what appears to be your overuse of political correctness I challenge that you would not be having this same reaction of the image were a man rather than a woman with the same message – in fact you would perhaps be somewhat amused by the implication.

The text and image are clearly fantasy, even using the word “dream” and frankly anyone who is personally offended by the image and the text needs to take a serious look at how they interpret the world, I’m sorry.

There are better things to be doing rather than looking for any hint of percieved political incorrectness in what is intended to be a playful image aimed at men. The only message of inferiority that I think you are picking up on is “wouldn’t women be better if they could be controlled using a game controller” which is frankly so far removed from reality and the real world that I struggle to see how you could associate this with sexism.

I suppose you would also call an image portraying a woman who whimsically wishes for an Adonis looking gentleman to be her slave sexist as well?

#7 JDoran on 02.08.10 at 4:03 pm

Here we go again. Show a picture of an attractive woman, and it’s sexist, demeaning, horrific, etc. Yet if the image had have been of an almost naked, muscle bound man then no one at all would have complained.

Woman are used in advertising because they are much more pleasant to look at, on average, than men. It’s a natural, genetic trait (and in the eye of the beholder).

And do you think that that model in the picture was forced, with a gun trained on her, to pose for that photo? Or do you think that she got paid more for that two hour photo session than I will get in a week, maybe a month of work?

I’m a bloke, but if I could earn a (very nice) living from posing wearing next to nothing, then I would certainly do so. Sadly it’s about as likely as Electronic Arts producing a radically different FIFA football game, as even if nature had given me a desirable body and face, then men aren’t employed nearly so much to garner attention in adverts, as they aren’t nearly so representative of beauty or desiribility. It’s nature that makes women seem beautiful to us, not man made law, or the camera, or anything.

#8 JenniferRuth on 02.08.10 at 4:44 pm

Elroy –

I think you are way too invested in defending this image. What about me saying the image was sexist offends you so much? Your viewpoint on people objecting to sexist images is way, way too sensitive.

Just because you don’t believe something doesn’t mean it isn’t there. You bring up “political correctness” but no-one else did. Bee in your bonnet? Seems to be clouding your ability to think rationally. You even start to tell me what I am thinking!

“…you would not be having this same reaction of the image were a man rather than a woman with the same message – in fact you would perhaps be somewhat amused by the implication.”

I wouldn’t start a career as a psychic.

Oh, then you tell me there are better things to do. Yet you are the one who has contributed the longest comments so far! On something you think is irrelevant!

Sheesh…

If there was an advert that suggested the world would be a better place if only we could control men then yes, I would think that would be sexist. Because it is.

I don’t think you really understand what sexism is. Or, you do and you’re fine with it.

Either way, I’m just a random internet commenter who works and plays with video games and who happens to be female. Why do you care so much that I was offended? Why is it so important to you that I NOT be offended?

And what do you think of the momentum of the PS3?

#9 JenniferRuth on 02.08.10 at 4:46 pm

JDoran –

“Woman are used in advertising because they are much more pleasant to look at, on average, than men. It’s a natural, genetic trait (and in the eye of the beholder).”

Speak for yourself.

#10 Elroy Spooner on 02.08.10 at 8:02 pm

@JenniferRuth

“I think you are way too invested in defending this image. What about me saying the image was sexist offends you so much? Your viewpoint on people objecting to sexist images is way, way too sensitive.”

It’s not the image I’m defending so much as the right to publish an image without people including yourself commenting that it’s sexist as though other people are going to view it and have their views reinforced or changed to a sexist nature when the image is not denigrating women or inferring they are inferior in any way. Many parts of the Western world are losing the right to free speech quite literally because of pandering to the view that offending a small minority holding a view is considered worse than losing the aforementioned right.

“You bring up “political correctness” but no-one else did.”

Your original comment is politically correct.

“…you would not be having this same reaction of the image were a man rather than a woman with the same message – in fact you would perhaps be somewhat amused by the implication.”

I wouldn’t start a career as a psychic.”

…If there was an advert that suggested the world would be a better place if only we could control men then yes, I would think that would be sexist. Because it is.”

I’m confused – first you imply that you wouldn’t consider it sexist if the picture was male (by stating I cannot read minds heh) and next paragraph your stating that you would think it was sexist.

“Why do you care so much that I was offended? Why is it so important to you that I NOT be offended?”

I’m not saying this for the purposes of offending anyone but one has to live with offending people if one is also to enjoy reasonable rights to free speech – not everyone agrees on everything.

As I don’t consider either scenario (male or female) to be derogatory, implying inferiority or in any way sexist – as they are clearly fantasy and unrelated to real life situations… the woman has a game controller in her belly button for Gods sake – I feel I need to try to inform you that you’re misguided in attributing a sexist narrative to the image in question.

#11 Bruce on 02.08.10 at 8:33 pm

Enough about the girl already.

What about Sony and the PS3?

#12 Robin on 02.08.10 at 9:13 pm

Whoa there, an anonymous internet commenter who earnestly uses the term “political correctness” and seems to believe that free speech is primarily enshrined as a right as an excuse to be as obnoxious as possible? What an extraordinary and unprecedented development.

Back on topic: The effect that the PS3 Slim model and price cut have had on the platform’s performance in Europe and Japan isn’t touched on in the article, and contradicts the (typically nebulous) statement that “…Sony seem set to come third in this generation of home console, behind Microsoft and Nintendo, just because of momentum, if nothing else.”

#13 Deejay on 02.08.10 at 10:57 pm

@Robin Fair point. I’d say that Bruce’s statement is true in terms of public perception if not absolute terms; after all, this is a blog written by a marketing guru!

It’ll be interesting to see how much of a dent the PlayStation brand has taken by the time the PS3′s successor lands. If you’d asked me this time last year, I’d've suggested they might ditch it altogether. I do however keep bumping into people that have bought a PS3 not because they know a lot about it, but because they had a PS2, were looking to upgrade and saw it was more expensive, and *must* therefore be better than the 360.

#14 Sean Bean's Gravy Boat on 02.09.10 at 10:00 am

The objecification of both women and men happens, simply because good looking women appeal to men, and good looking men appeal to women.

As has already been said earlier, if this advert was done with a man rather than a woman then nobody would bat an eyelid. A good example would be the diet Coke ads where a sweaty man gets ogled by an office full of swooning girls while he takes off his shirt and has a drink. If it was a girl all sweaty, taking off her shirt while an office full of men stood around going “phwoarrr” etc. then it would be viewed as sexist.

Get down off your high horses and just take it for what it is, a bit of fun.

#15 karooo on 02.09.10 at 1:06 pm

Sony wanted to push blu ray, thats why they took the loss willingly and they succeded in making blu ray no 1 format, you think sony a huge multinational company is made up of idiots?

how the hell do you expect marketpenetration with a 599$ console Sony had different ideas and one of them was Blu ray.

it was all according to plan.

#16 Andre Swenson on 02.10.10 at 11:28 am

When the PS3 was launched, I thought it meant more to SONY as a bluray vector; gaming wise the PS2 was still going great guns. The PS1 was still making money!
(now I read karoo’s post)

#17 NS on 02.11.10 at 10:27 am

While I appreciate that the question of whether the image is sexist or not is subject to opinion, there is no question that it detracts from the article.

Good luck Sony..

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