Sony Expands PSP -- Just As Nintendo Announces 20 Millionth DS Shipment

Dennis Faas's picture

As Nintendo faces both scrutiny for its admittedly fragile DS Lite and applause for shipping its 20 millionth unit, Sony is doing its damndest to keep up.

Provided with a golden PR opportunity as Nintendo scrambles to cover itself over an approximate 400,000 faulty portable units, Sony is announcing a slew of new features for the Playstation Portable (PSP), in hopes that it can increase shipments.

When it launched the PSP in North America on March 24, 2005, many insiders -- including yours truly -- saw the system's power and Sony's third-party support as a dynamic that simply could not fail. And fail it has not; but quite simply, the PSP has been commercially dominated by the Nintendo Dual Screen (or DS).

Despite early stumbles for the DS and early success for the PSP, in the settling dust Nintendo is clearly ahead: 6 million units, in fact. (Source:

So, what makes the DS so marketable?

The DS is the handheld king right now simply because Nintendo is more familiar with those consumers who buy portable systems. Unlike Sony, it has created a number of titles exclusively meant for the DS, and if there is one single strength to Nintendo's systems, it is a core of fun and easy-to-learn first-party titles.

Furthermore, the better support and marketing have allowed the DS to make up for the graphical difference between it and the PSP (which is sizable -- the DS runs N64 games while the PSP runs near-PS2 builds, meaning an entire graphical generation jump).

So, what is Sony doing to change things?

Quite simply, Sony will be trying to trump the DS by beating Nintendo at their own game (no pun intended).

Nintendo prides itself on radical (even gimmicky) accessories, such as the dual screen itself. Sony is attempting similar strategies, such as the recent announcement that the PSP will act as a remote for the highly-anticipated Playstation 3. In addition, Sony is hoping to expand its online capabilities for the DS by offering movie downloads. The PSP may even integrate PC-like functions, as rumours abound that the portable device will soon integrate RSS Video feeds and external keyboards. (Source:

Is Sony desperate? Not yet. After all, this is its first real generation of portable offerings, and was up against some stiff competition when targeting handheld hero Nintendo to begin with. With that said, the PSP's muscle may help it pull even with the under-powered DS -- so long as Sony is willing to put in the effort.

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