Sony’s Movie Download Store MIA

sonypsp.jpgGreg Sandoval has a sharp analysis up on CNET News.com about Sony’s download service. The Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) is a nice game machine. But two years after its launch, the device’s potential as an all-around entertainment platform is stuck in neutral. This is despite the fact that its $169 price and 4.3-inch widescreen put the $249 iPod (and its 2.5-inch screen) to shame, at least for playing movies.

Why is this significant for mobile media? Sony introduced a portable format called UMD for the machine. Dozens of movies came out and sold reasonably well for a few months back in 2005. But then as sales slowed, the big retailers pulled UMD titles off the shelves, and studios such as Paramount and Universal dropped the format. As CNET points out, UMD titles only worked on the PSP, and there was no rhyme or reason to the release choices, so it’s not as if the format’s failure was a surprise.

Now Sony is supposed to launch a download store for the PSP that lets people buy movies the way you can with Apple and their iPod line. The problem is there’s still no download store, even though months have gone by since Sony’s announcement.

Meanwhile, several analysts weigh in on the PSP in the article. The best quote award goes to James McQuivey, a Forrester research analyst: “This problem of Sony’s goes back to the Betamax. They don’t just want to make the device that everybody wants. They want to own the entire the format.” How true–and sad, as anyone who has paid extra for Memory Sticks or MiniDiscs can tell you.

Can Sony click with download store? [CNET News]