When it first hit the stores in the US there was much debate about the wisdom of launching a gaming console that was already, as many thought, way behind the Xbox 360.
The reasons for this lukewarm reception were many.
First, the PS3 was costly to produce. This was because it included an expensive Blu-ray component, and because Blu-ray had not yet hit the mainstream, people didn’t really understand its importance.
Its inclusion has since proved to be a stroke of genius, because this very function has transformed the PS3 into an entertainment system, not just a gaming console.
You can now enjoy Blu-ray movies on your PS3 with the added knowledge that you’ve got a lot more functionality than your stand-alone Blu-ray player.
Sony had the foresight to see that the social element of gaming was important and the Playstation Network has been an important part of their strategy. PSN is now set to morph into the new ‘Play Community”; Sony’s own gaming social network that has just launched in Japan.
The PS3 has now sold 55.5 million PS3s worldwide and has, for the first time, overtaken the X box 360 in global sales this year – proving those initial doubters wrong.
It’s not all been plain sailing though. Security breaches to the PSN network were more than just a hiccup and security is something that will need to be robustly addressed, particularly with the onset of ‘Play Community’.
The attempt to make the PS3 ‘Home’ service a sort of virtual Disneyland themed alternative to Facebook didn’t really take off. This is evolving all the time though and is becoming more of a social gaming platform.
Having said that, the member numbers hardly make ‘Home’ a failure. In excess of 23 million users are connected and there is a lot of publishing partner support.
Publishing partners like Netflix in the US and Lovefilm in the U.K are particularly influential.
At the present time the PS3 has a bright future but it needs to face up to some uncomfortable truths if it is to maintain its ascendency. Apple’s cloud technology is set to revolutionize gaming, with a move towards virtual gaming.
This cloud technology has already been embraced by Valve’s ‘Steam’ and Sony need to be able to compete.
It’s taken a step in the right direction with the Cloud based music player that it launched in April this year. This is another useful feature that has boosted the PS3s reputation as a complete entertainment system. PS3 users are able to access their playlists virtually online. No need to download any more MP3s.
So what’s in the pipeline for the next 5 years?
Well as an entertainment system, the PS3 has an exciting future. The Blu-ray component has allowed Sony to diversify in areas where other consoles can’t compete. The online movie streaming and Blu-ray rental sector for example has plenty more to offer.