Sony's Hirai not completely surprised by Nvidia's gaming portable

The Sony CEO says gaming hardware is a tough market to break into

Sony's president says he wasn't completely surprised by Nvidia's announcement that it plans to launch an Android-based portable gaming device.

"I wasn't as surprised as you might think," he told reporters on the sidelines of CES in Las Vegas. "If you look back through the pages of history, there have been other attempts."

Nvidia said a day earlier that it plans to introduce a portable gaming device. Currently dubbed "Project Shield," the device looks like an oversize gaming controller with a fold-up flat-panel display. Inside are a Tegra-based computer that will be able to play games from the Android marketplace, Nvidia's own online store and a link up to the Steam PC online gaming service.

The announcement took many by surprise, not least because the portable gaming market is highly competitive and those that have tried to enter the market in recent years haven't fared well.

"It's difficult to break into," said Hirai. "I've managed this industry, so I know."

Before taking the top job at Sony in April last year, Hirai had led Sony Computer Entertainment for over five years. He oversaw the turn-around of the PlayStation 3 from a loss-making product into one that makes money. He also managed the introduction of the PSP Vita handheld.

Hirai said Nvidia's announcement could be seen as part of a multi-platform gaming trend that has seen gaming jump to other products.

"Customers are used to playing video games on not just consoles anymore, but a variety of devices," he said.

Asked whether he thought now was a good time for a company to enter the gaming sector, Hirai said "It's too early to tell."

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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Martyn Williams

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