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Sony Introduces iTunes-Like Software for PlayStation Portable

Posted by iTech - 2005-11-03

Sony has introduced software to enhance the reputation of its PlayStation Portable (PSP) gaming device as a multifunctional product. The new application lets users easily transfer a variety of content from a computer to the PSP.
With PSP Media Manager, users can move videos, music, and photos to the PSP by way of a USB connection. The software also gives users the ability to access a directory of RSS feeds, such as podcasts, video blogs, and PSP-formatted magazines.

The software provides navigation and thumbnail previews to identify photos and videos for transfer from the PC to PSP, and lets users select among different quality settings for the content. In addition, a one-click option lets users back up game saves, images, videos, and music files from the PSP to a desktop computer.

Targeting iTunes

While Nintendo (PNK: NTDOY) has enjoyed a near monopoly in portable gaming, with some 90 to 95 percent of the market, Sony has taken a different approach to the market by moving well beyond games to include Wi-Fi, music, and video capabilities in the PSP. And it appears to be paying off, as the company claims that some two million PSP systems have been sold in North America as of September.

"The plan all along was to market this as a multimedia device, with a focus on gaming as the short-term strategy," said Yankee Group analyst Michael Goodman. "The PSP is a portable entertainment system, and the Media Manager helps users manage all of the content available."

Goodman suggested that Apple and iTunes, rather than Nintendo, are Sony's true targets with the PSP. "Sony is not trying to out-Nintendo Nintendo with a portable game player; they are targeting a more mature audience and adding a lot more functions to the device," he said.

Content Portal

While alternative, third-party software products are available for transferring content from the PC to the PSP, Sony has taken the hassle out of making the connection and managing that content. In the process, the company has provided a portal to its vast media holdings.

Forrester research analyst Ted Schadler called the addition of more services to PSP a smart move by Sony. "After they launched the product, they opened it up and watched as people added all kinds of applications," he said. The biggest obstacle for Sony is that the PSP lacks a big hard drive, said Schadler, although he expects that it's only a matter of time before the company addresses that issue.

A download-only version of Media Manager is available for $19.95, while a boxed version, including a USB cable, sample media, and five free song downloads, will be sold online, starting in December, for $29.95.

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