Why did Sony make PSP music downloads so difficult?
I've been reading through your site. I see a lot of problems with the Sony PSP music downloads. Why did Sony make this so difficult for the buyers of their product. Why not just get a class action lawsuit against Sony and I'm sure they will come up with an easier solution to fix thier psp transfers.
I can't speak of any sort of class action lawsuit but I suspect that there's not really any basis for it because Sony does offer a piece of software - however good or bad it is - to make that process easier.
The more interesting question is just why it's so hard to work with the Sony PSP in the first place, and to answer that, I think you need to go back and look at a little bit of Sony corporate history. In the 70s and 80s Sony revolutionized our relationship with our music through the introduction of its Walkman series. Imagine, cassette players and then CD players that were small enough to carry with you when hiking, rugged enough to survive the outdoors, and with sufficient battery life that you could listen to more than just a few songs.
The Original Sony Walkman Series
But somewhere along the way, Sony started to buy up libraries of audio and video content, production studios and even catalogs of favorite music. Right about then, Sony suddenly realized that making it easy to enjoy your music and movies everywhere had a great potential price: the value of the multimedia content could plummet. After all, if you could make a pretty clean cassette recording of an album, wouldn't groups of people pool their resources to buy one album (expensive), a bunch of blank cassettes (cheap) and then distribute them around, depriving the artist and, more importantly, the studio of revenue?
That fear froze Sony into complete inactivity, and given the incredible strength of their Walkman brand in the last decade, it was only ineptitude and fear that let Apple take over the leadership position in portable media players with its incredibly successful iPod line. It's not that the iPod isn't incredibly cool, it is, but rather that the leadership position was Sony's to lose, and lose it did.
Zoom forward a few years to the release of the Sony Playstation Portable, and suddenly the easy idea of adding the ability to view downloaded videos, play downloaded music and even play downloaded games is again a threat to Sony's revenue stream, not an opportunity to sell and ship a cool consumer product. The result? Sony releases a mostly crippled device that has such convoluted requirements for video and music that it's almost impossible to get it to work properly.
The last 18 months have played out quite typically for consumer electronics too: hackers figure out how to circumvent specific restraints in the device just to have Sony release a firmware "upgrade" that mostly just shuts down those exploits. It's the digital equivalent of the Cold War, and it's equally unproductive.
Instead, I believe that Sony should be embracing the hacker community and making it easy to play homebrew applications, watch any video you can dump onto the unit (imagine if it played EVERY format and your only concern was file size and image size), and support as many music digital rights management systems possible, ensuring that you can really make the PSP your all-around portable media device, from slick games to your favorite movies and TV shows, to your favorite music. Slap in a 20GB hard disk and suddenly it's a whole new device with a new market and considerably greater sales.
But, alas, that's not how Sony looks at things, and just as surely as the company fumbled its lead in the portable music player marketplace I will be unsurprised if a new portable player targeted at the adult market (unlike the Nintendo DS) rises to prominence and supplants the PSP entirely. Perhaps a portable Microsoft Xbox 360? Who knows...
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