MediaFile

Sony on the Apple challenge in games, e-books

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.

E3: Dancing with Xbox Kinect on Day 1

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Day one of the 2010 E3 video game conference was dominated by news from Microsoft, who told us a little more about Xbox 360 with Kinect, the gesture/motion system that lets users do many things on screen without the need for a controller. The system, due in November, poses a threat to top dog console the Nintendo’s Wii, and Sony’s new add-on, called Move.

But I’ll tell you who should be worried: those Dance competition video game folks. Microsoft demonstrated a pad-less, controller-less dance game that looked like a lot more fun than stomping on a giant pad with arrows. Check out the video below…

Here is the unboxing of the new factor of the Xbox 360, which is smaller, and has built in Wi-Fi. (via giantbomb.com)

Don’t look for Sony’s iPad killer any time soon

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Don’t expect to see Sony’s response to Apple’s iPad tablet computer any time soon.

We talked to Sony Chief Executive Howard Stringer, who was in town to discuss the unveiling of Google TV, the  initiative that marries the Web to television. Stringer was very excited about that product, which will appear first in Sony TVs later this year, giving the electronics maker a head start against what is expected to be a future filled with Internet-enabled TVs. While noting that Sony’s digital book reader product sales are still strong, he seemed much less thrilled about any iPad-killer plans for Sony, maker of the popular Vaio line of computers.

Everybody’s now making one aren’t they? Tablets, tablets, as far as the eye can see.

Does OLED TV have a future?

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Two years ago at the annual Consumer Electronics Show,  Sony unveiled an OLED television — that’s an Organic Light Emitting Diode TV. It was sleek, sporting credit-card thinness, superior picture quality and energy efficiency, and some thought the technology might eventually overtake plasma and LCD. Its only hang-up was sticker shock: $2,000 for an 11-inch screen. No worries — the price will drop and demand will rise and more units are manufactured, right?

Maybe not. Sony has pulled the plug on OLED TV sales in Japan due to poor sales. It is still difficult — and expensive — to make big OLED displays, especially when prices for other forms of TVs are shrinking while sizes are increasing. Sony showed off a slightly bigger models at this years CES, including a 3D prototype. As for the models on store shelves,  New York Electronics retailer J&R Music and Computer World is selling one for $1,500 after a whopping $1,000 discount.

But OLED isn’t dead: LG, which bought Kodak’s OLED business, showed off retail-ready 15-inch OLED TVs at this years CES.

CES: Sony’s Dash in action (video)

Here’s a quick demo of Sony’s Dash personal internet device, at CES. Wireless and looking a lot like an alarm clock, it’s compelling as a device for video streaming and recipe reading anywhere in the house. The $200 price tag? Time will tell how well that birdie flies.

Black Friday sprint begins for video game industry

Black Friday marks the beginning of the most critical time of the year for video game makers, as customers jam stores on the day after Thanksgiving to pick up games and consoles as gifts.

As a brutal 2009 winds to a close, the gaming industry is hoping that a strong six weeks of sales in the United States, the largest market, could help them salvage something from the year.

Nintendo said Monday its Wii home console — the long-time U.S. champ that has been struggling lately — sold more than 550,000 units in the U.S. during Thanksgiving week. To put that in perspective, the company sold around 500,000 Wiis in all of October, according to industry tracker NPD.

Barnes & Noble plans big (e-reader?) event

Brace yourself for the next salvo in the battle of the ebook readers (or electronic reading devices, or e-reader, or whatever you want to call them).

Barnes & Noble is planning a “major event” next Tuesday in New York to announce a mystery… something.

The bookseller won’t say exactly what it will announce, but we’d be surprised if its NOT a digital book reader, to compete with Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader series.

Gamescom lands on gamers’ map

Two days ago, Sony finally announced it would cut the price for its flagship
PlayStation 3, reacting to slumping sales which have lagged
behind those of Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

But industry experts, who had long expected such a move,
were more surprised about the location Sony chose for its
announcement than about the decision itself.

“The fact that Sony decided to announce the PS3 price cut at
Gamescom shows the importance they attach to it. This has been
one of the most important decisions they’ve made in the
segment,” said Ed Barton, analyst at London-based media research
company Screen Digest.

Sony cuts PS3 price, sounds confident about holidays

The long-anticipated price cut on Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game console might have come just in the nick of time, as industry sales continue to wilt in the heat of summer. Both game hardware and software sales have been flagging, but console price cuts typically spur game sales.

Sony took the PS3′s price to $299 from $399, and the company sounded bullish on its prospects for the holiday selling season.

“With this price move, we’re extremely confident,” said Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, in a interview. “I don’t think there’s anything more that we could realistically ask for in terms of putting us in a position to be successful this holiday, I really feel like everything’s lined up for us.”

Microsoft-Yahoo provide a closer look at ad deal

By most accounts, the 88 percent revenue share Yahoo will collect from its advertising partnership with Microsoft is a pretty darn good number. Obviously, 90 percent is even better. And that’s exactly the share of revenue that Microsoft will pay Yahoo in the second half of their 10-year deal, according to a regulatory filing.******The filing casts more light on the details of the partnership. It also seemed to give a lift to Yahoo, whose stock rose slightly in early trade.******Here are five other key points from the filing …*** *** At least 400 Yahoo staffers will join Microsoft. The two companies will select an extra 150 employees to help with Yahoo’s transition to Microsoft’s search technology.

*** A definitive agreement is due to be signed by October 27, or they head for an arbitration panel.

*** Microsoft is paying Yahoo about $50 million a year during the first three years of the deal to help with transition costs.

*** The deal is limited to web sites, applications and “other online digital properties designed for use and consumption on personal computers.” But Yahoo can receive Microsoft mapping and mobile search if it wants.

*** Yahoo can kill the deal if the Yahoo and Microsoft’s share of the U.S. query market falls below a certain level. Either party can terminate the deal due to repeated material breaches of the agreement.

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***If you want more information on these provisions, or others, have a look here.******Keep an eye on:***

    *** What’s the Wall Street Journal’s policy when it comes to story embargoes? PaidContent has the latest rundown (paidContent.org)

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    *** Google is doing a little wheeling and dealing. It is buying On2 Technologies, and has sold its Google Radio Automation business (Reuters)

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    *** Sirius XM Radio’s stock has been on a run this week. Seems that investors are looking past what will likely be quarterly loss and focussing instead on new initiatives like “cash for clunkers” (Reuters)

    *** Looking for a less expensive digital book reader? Sony’s hoping to please (Reuters)

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***(Photo: Reuters)