Sony hits out at Playstation critics

Managing director of Sony Computer Entertainment in Australia, Michael Ephraim, has promised that the functionality of the forthcoming PSX console will be significantly improved before it hits Australian shores in late 2004.

The much-hyped PSX, which combines a hard disk drive video recorder, DVD recorder, music player, photo viewer and PlayStation 2 games console in a single box, will be released in Japan on December 13. But reviewers have so far been critical of the lack of functionality available in the initial release.

Ephraim has explained that not all of PSX’s potential is bundled straight out of the box.

“Some of the functionality the PSX will be capable of will not ship in the box,” he said. “The architecture can be totally upgraded by software.”

The Western world benefits from early product launches in Japan, Ephraim said, as the delay allowed the manufacturer to iron out any issues with the applications prior to the product hitting our shores.

"It has always been like this for the whole history of consumer electronics,” he said. “I would foresee that by the time the PSX launches here, the applications it comes with will be increased, and there will be many other possible applications and upgrades available.”

Ephraim also dismissed analyst figures that indicate an early lead for Microsoft’s X-Box online gaming service over the service Sony is offering for its Playstation 2.

Analysts from GfK Marketing group have released a report suggesting the Xbox Live service may be twice as popular as Sony’s PS2 Network.

“It is coming from such a low base, whatever numbers they are talking about now are inconsequential in the future,” Ephraim said. “I understand that our competition is a few hundred network adapters in front of us, not thousands. When you consider that we have an install base of a million PS2’s and 2.5 million Playstations, it is fairly irrelevant. Our competitors don’t even have a third of that install base.”

Sony's Michael Ephraim is profiled in ARN's last edition for the year (next week), alongside the other "Top Ten Newsmakers" in the IT channel for 2003.

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