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Sony’s Next Big Thing

Sony announced yesterday that their new PlayStation Portable would launch March 24 at a retail price of $249. To offset the high price point, it will ship with a 32MB memory stick, headphones, AC adaptor and other accessories. The first million units will also include the film Spiderman 2. The film will be on Universal Media Disc, the proprietary format of the PSP. That’s a lot of goodies. Or is it?

Sony’s rival in the handheld gaming market is Nintendo, with its Nintendo DS (Dual Screen). The DS has sold about 1.5 million units since its debut in November. It has two screens, touch-screen capability, a built-in microphone and backwards compatibility — which means it can play older as well as newer games. It also features games that provide new kinds of experiences. And at $149 it costs much less than the PSP.

Sony, at $249, has a product that is little more than a PDA that plays games. It seems Sony did not care to reinvent the wheel, and instead is letting it spin in place. Not even Spiderman 2 can sweeten that pot.

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