Sony Unveils PlayStation Vita TV To Take On Apple TV, Chromecast (AAPL, GOOG, SNE)
It may not involve the cord-cutting service that some expected, but Sony (NYSE: SNE) has unveiled a new device for games and streaming video: PlayStation Vita TV.
Named after Sony's latest handheld game system, PlayStation Vita TV is designed to play PSP (PlayStation Portable) and PS Vita games on a TV screen. It will also allow users to stream a barrage of services, such as Hulu.
Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) was not specifically mentioned in the announcement, but it is likely to be available. PlayStation 3, Sony's seven-year-old game console, became the number-one device for Netflix streaming last December.
PlayStation Vita TV features a card slot for Vita games, so users won't be forced to re-purchase those that they already own. According to IGN, PlayStation Vita TV will also accept PS Vita memory cards. This will allow users to download games and/or play those that they have already downloaded.
Due for release in Japan on November 14 -- one day before the North American launch of PlayStation 4 -- PlayStation Vita TV will retail for just under $100. The device is similar to Apple TV (NASDAQ: AAPL) in that it does not come with a game controller. Unlike Apple TV, however, PlayStation Vita TV supports an existing game controller (Sony's DualShock 3, which was built for PlayStation 3) right out of the box.
Customers can purchase a special edition for roughly $150 that includes a DualShock 3 controller and an eight gigabyte Vita memory card.
This move was spawned by other devices, such as Ouya, which have already brought familiar smartphone games to TV sets all over the world. Thus far, Ouya has not posted any record-breaking sales figures.
Nonetheless, many assume that the simple fun of Angry Birds and other mobile stalwarts can be converted to a 50-inch flat-screen TV.
This may be true, but it's important to note that many smartphone games have already come to the big screen via existing game consoles and smart TVs from Samsung (OTC: SSNLF).
Part of the beauty of smartphone games is that they are simple and are tailor-made for the small screen. They're perfect for Average Joes and Janes everywhere. Those consumers may not have been willing to buy a dedicated gaming device but they will spend $0.99 on a time-killing app for a phone they already own.
Sony's strategy is distinctly different from the one Apple and Google are rumored to be taking. Instead of bringing Android apps to PlayStation Vita TV, the company will allow consumers to play its entire slate of high-end mobile games on a television set.
This machine may not be a huge seller, but it represents an interesting alternative to the other crop of low-cost gaming devices. It also provides consumers with a cheap way to access PS Vita and PSP games, which could save the former machine at retail. Thus far, PS Vita hardware sales have fallen well below those of its predecessor.
PlayStation 4 Release Dates
In addition to its PlayStation Vita TV announcement, Sony revealed that PlayStation 4 will not arrive in Japan until February 22, 2014.
The company also revealed a thinner and lighter version of its handheld game machine, PS Vita.
Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ
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