Sony on the Apple challenge in games, e-books

June 16, 2010

hiraiApple is, of course, absent from this week’s video game extravaganza, the  E3 Expo in Los Angeles. The company just doesn’t do trade shows.  But its presence looms over the event.

Apple has managed to create a whole new gaming market with the iPhone since its debut in 2007. There are tens of thousands of games available for download via Apple’s App Store, and it’s an open debate as to how much the iPhone’s success has hurt the traditional hardware makers, namely Nintendo and Sony, which both make portable gaming devices.

Nintendo is making a big push to differentiate its portable gaming platform with it’s new 3D-enabled DS, which offers a glasses-free experience.

And Sony, for its part, said it doesn’t really see Apple as a true competitor in the gaming space. In an interview Tuesday at E3, Kaz Hirai, head of Sony Computer Entertainment and the company’s networked products and services group, said Apple is creating a complimentary market:

“They’ve created a great market for a lot of casual games, but I think the important thing to remember… is that what we bring to the table is a completely different experience from the casual gaming that Apple brings…It’s a different kind of gaming, there are some buttons [on the iPhone] but they’re not physical buttons, and if you’re looking for precision game play you have to have physical buttons,” Hirai said.

“What we stand for as an industry, the traditional video gamer if you will, it’s more ‘let’s sit down and play an immersive gaming experience’ as opposed to “I’ll pick it up I’ll play for 5 minutes and then life goes on.'”

And what about the iPad, which besides its obvi0us promise as a gaming platform, is also taking on Sony and in the e-reader market?

“They’ve created a device that’s really a multi-device, so it does a lot of good things fairly well. But it you look at the [Sony] Reader, it’s a specific application device. It’s basically designed to do one thing very well and that is to read e-books. So whether it’s the battery life — an iPad is going to last what, 10 hours? But with a [Reader] you can carry this thing and read books all you want for literally a week or two weeks, the battery life is still there. It’s easier on the eye because it’s not LCD based, and also the pricing is completely different as well. Those are things that I think, for a reader-specific device, we have an advantage.”

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