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Kutaragi Admits Sony Hardware In Decline 68

Posted by Zonk
from the notfud dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a surprising admission, Sony Computer Entertainment President Ken Kutaragi acknowledged that Sony's strength in game hardware might be in decline. BetaNews has the article, which reports on Sony's PS3 struggle for the holiday season." From the article: "In an extraordinary public statement of regret and despair over having to postpone his company's PlayStation 3 debut in Europe and Australia until March, and to limit availability elsewhere to only 500,000 units come November, Sony Computer Entertainment President Ken Kutaragi is quoted by Reuters as having told reporters, 'If you asked me if Sony's strength in hardware was in decline, right now I guess I would have to say that might be true.'"
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Kutaragi Admits Sony Hardware In Decline

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  • Wow!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @02:19PM (#16072076) Journal
    This has the potential to be the first article about a Sony exec saying something that may not be tagged fud!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It takes some l33t sk1ll2 to make a piece of software which acts as both spyware and DRM at once, and then install it on a person's computer without their approval. Thanks, Sony. You took the art form to a new level.
  • Sony's problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @02:26PM (#16072106) Homepage Journal
    They think they're the #1 in electronics and gaming, but they're no more important than Toshiba, Hitachi, etc.

    Given their obsession with proprietary Sony software (ATRAC comes to mind) and hardware (miniDisc, memory stick - when we already have too many flash standards already, UMD, etc), the general public is less likely to choose Sony in the first place.

    Then add PR fiascos like the rootkit, the PS3 delays, the PS3 price tag and the latest "Blu-Ray doesn't look much better than DVDs" comments I've read, Sony better do something before it's too late.

    However, seeing their new "Four PSP movies locked in a single 1/2GB memory stick that you have to unlock and then still only play them on the PSP" idea, I have no hope left for them.
    • by fromvap (995894)
      "Blu-Ray doesn't look much better than DVDs"

      That is really hard to believe, because HD can look MUCH better than DVD, if you pause it. See here: http://www.cornbread.org/FOTRCompare/index.html [cornbread.org]
      These 2 especially: http://www.cornbread.org/FOTRCompare/FOTR_Compare3 _DVD.html [cornbread.org]

      Remember the thrill when DVD first came out of pausing a movie and being able to read the writing on letters, signs, liquor bottles?
      Now that will be expanded and you can read many more tiny objects, and the higher resolution will let you z
      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        "Blu-Ray doesn't look much better than DVDs"
        That is really hard to believe, because HD can look MUCH better than DVD, if you pause it.

        I didn't say Blu-Ray wasn't better, I was talking about "tech people" doing demos in stores and such. If they can hardly set up the things properly, imagine the regular users.

        Remember, we still have people connecting their DVD players via composite (RCA) instead of S-Video or component... The advantages will Blu-Ray will be lost on most people.

    • Given their obsession with proprietary Sony software (ATRAC comes to mind) and hardware (miniDisc, memory stick - when we already have too many flash standards already, UMD, etc), the general public is less likely to choose Sony in the first place.

      That paragraph alone sums it up nicely. My first digital camera was a SONY. My experiance with it was short battery life. It was good for 1/3 of a wedding and none of the reception, 1/4 ball game, etc. Many recommended buying a spare battery. At $40 a pop, I
  • Go ahead (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tsiangkun (746511)
    Ask me if I care.

    I'm still in shock really. I was anticipating the PS3 for years, and then in just a few months, SONY destroyed any desire I have to do business with them ever again.

    I don't know about you, but in my house Wii have already decided what Wii think of the PS3. They could have a mere dozenPS3 ready by november, and it wouldn't change a thing for me.

    I discriminate against companies infected with DRM [sony.com]
  • by adam31 (817930) <adam31@@@gmail...com> on Saturday September 09, 2006 @02:37PM (#16072156)
    The One positive PS3 has is its hardware. Its the software, sales, and marketing departments that are killing PS3. Did you watch E3? That was the longest continuous WTF I've ever seen. Powerpoint? Massive Crabs? Card monsters? The devkits they're giving developers are supposedly a total nightmare, with SDKs that take days to get working... And then sales goes and picks the magic number we all know.


    But the hardware underneath it all is brilliant. Cell is a pretty sweet piece of chip for video games. RSX is good enough. Blu-Ray has 25 GB of storage, which should be enough for the next 5 years of games. A hard drive removes the artificial limitation of streaming bandwidth from building seamless worlds. Wireless controllers, Wifi internet, 1080p... tilt is tilt, even if a gimmick-- all these options are there for devs.

    If only the rest of Sony could get their shit together, the box would sell itself.

    • But the xbox 360 also has much of what you said(no blue ray, but that won't be a big deal for a while) And the xbox 360 premium is 2/3 the price of the ps3 and may very well inch lower before the release of the PS3. I don't own a 360 and will probably not own any of the next gen systems, but Sony's hardware is basically just a 360 with blue ray bolted on and a cheap imitation of the Wii controller. Pardon me for not getting excited over that.
      • ... Sony's hardware is basically just a 360 with blue ray bolted on and a cheap imitation of the Wii controller.

        Sorry, the PS3 specs blow xbox away if the two pages I just read are current. PS3 [ps3power.com] has twice the floating point performance xbox 360 does [teamxbox.com]

        , not to mention a spec page with real specs. All the hype and bullshit on the xbox page makes my head hurt. Similarly, the software Xbox runs has a tendency to make computers hurt whereas what PS3 is leveraging is know to be clean. Sony's DRM might crap

      • I don't own a 360 and will probably not own any of the next gen systems

        We're with you -- and what says everything is that my husband is a hard-core gamer. I game some too, but more in pen & paper RPGs. Anyhoo, here's our assessment of the next generation consoles:

        XBox 360: Very limited backwards compatibility. To play XBox games, you need an XBox. 360 doesn't play both. Therefore lacking in a big enough library of games to our tastes.
        PS3: If everthing holds true, WAY over-priced and too much DRM. Hus

    • by Rycross (836649) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @03:04PM (#16072252)
      Interesting about the dev kits. Do you have some sources for the problems, because a friend of mine didn't seem to have any troubles at all devving for the PS3. He seemed a bit confused when I mentioned this rumor.

      I'm not trying to troll or spread FUD or anything. I'm genuinly interested where there have been problems.

      Obligitory: I'm leaning towards Wii myself. I'll have to see the whole package Nintendo delivers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by masklinn (823351)

        Dunno, most of the feedback about the devkits indicate that it's extremely complex and the tools are akin to PS2's devkits tools: they suck, and you have to create your own.

        From what I've read, for this generation, the Microsoft devkits are the absolute best (in simplicity, functionality and features, I guess MS' experience with Visual Studio helped a lot there), then comes Nintendo (the devkits are OK, and the fact that the Wii is fairly similar to the GC allows companies to reuse GC knowledge), and dead

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by ravenshrike (808508)
          I have yet to see any quoted source on the insane complexity of the devkits. Nowhere. The closest thing I've seen actually quoted is that it's difficult, but not near the shittyness that was the PS2 Emotion Engine.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            The problem with the PS3 devkit (as of SDK 092) is that the software just isn't good enough to let developers work efficiently with them. For example to update the flash ROM of the kit (one with each new SDK version) you have to copy it to a usb storage device, power down the kit, reboot the kit and insert the key *at the right moment*, that's just stupid (both 360, PS2 and previous versions of the PS3 devkit would let you do this by network). The Sony dev forums are full of posts from developers trying to
        • by Rycross (836649)
          I've heard that too, but its always been hearsay. I can't remember actually reading it in an article. My friend is really smart though, and it sounds like the guys he works with are likewise. So its possible that they didn't have any difficulties. Could also be that a lot of console developers have a hard time dealing with multi-threaded programming.
        • by Rycross (836649)
          I looked on wikipedia concerning the PS3 and the programming aspect [wikipedia.org] at least seems promising. The launch titles are meh for me though.
        • by SuperDre (982372)
          that ofcourse is utter bullshit... The devkits for the PS3 are just fine.. and a lot of companies are using the unreal engine 3, so that's no different than it would for like that shitty xbox 360... And also you say that the 'akin to PS2s devkits tools: they suck', but that's not what I've seen, the PS2 devkits where extremely good...
    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @03:11PM (#16072274) Journal
      I'm sorry, but I don't think you fully appreciate how vital the Cell processor is in order to facilitate real-time weapon changing. I guess you just don't understand the internal architecture of console systems.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 09, 2006 @03:41PM (#16072354)
      Cell is a pretty sweet piece of chip for video games

      Actually, I'd personally argue that the Cell is pretty crappy for videogames; its a very powerful processor that can do a massive number of floating point operations but doesn't really address the fundamental performance problems that exist in Videogames.

      In videogames (like most applications) 5% of the code takes up about 90% of the processing power; take scene graph management as an example, most of the effort to manage your scene graph (to determine which objects to be rendered) is doing matrix-matrix multiplications, vector-matrix multiplications, and vector cross/dot products to determine whether the bounding sphere is within an arbitrary box, segmenting the box, and then testing whether the bounding sphere is within the 8 new arbitrary boxes. On the Cell processor each matrix multiplication will result in 64 floating point multiplications and 48 floating point additions (with an aditional 128 integer multiplications and 64 integer additions if the programmer is dumb), each vector matrix multiplication results in 16 floating point multiplications and 12 floating point additions (with an additional 32 integer multiplications and 16 integer additions if the programmer is dumb) and so on; if you were truly designing a "games processor" you would include far more vector instructions (with the possiblility of a hardware based matrix multiplication) to greatly reduce the ammount cycles needed to handle these types of operations.

      The reason Sony didn't do this is that this would reduce the clock speed that they could run the processor at (in theory, a matrix multiplication could do 64 floating point multiplications at the same time, which would use a lot of energy, which would produce a lot of heat, which would mean that you couldn't run it at nearly the same speed) and thus reduce the speed at which you could run generic code; the fact is that Sony and Toshiba have already said that the Cell was designed to be included in their entire electronics line, the only reason it is the CPU in the PS3 is that they had to spend the money to develop a CPU for the PS3 anyways and they could use that money to develop a generic multimedia processor instead.

      Trust me, Sony could have developed a much more powerful CPU (for gaming) at a fraction of the cost if they wanted to; PS3 early adopters are paying extra money so that Sony can use the Cell in future TVs to upscale a 480p image to 1080p.
    • Good hardware sells itself -- like Betamax!
    • by BeeBeard (999187) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @05:05PM (#16072608)
      You raise some great points about how Sony at least knew enough to sandwich together some pretty interesting hardware for their upcoming console, but how in the world can you claim that the PS3 is being "killed" when it hasn't even been released yet? Rather than engage in endless debates about who will be king of the mountain after the PS3 arrives, the thing to do here is to just wait until the PS3 is out and the dust settles.

      Trust me, there are plenty of ways to kill a console that don't involve unfounded PR moves and minor devkit problems. How about having *no* developers even making games for it? That was the case with the Sega Saturn, which I owned and loved. There was a time when it was the hottest thing on the block, too. But the Saturn soon turned into a kind of cautionary tale about how you really need to get some grassroots developer support before you even think about releasing a new machine. Sony has done that.

      Will it be enough to topple Microsoft and Nintendo? Who can say?--I'm no fortune teller either. But what we shouldn't do is assume that because Sony has completely dropped the ball in other markets, that they will likewise fail in the console arena. Still skeptical? Look at Microsoft: Their operating systems range from mediocre to absolute garbage, their office suites are pretty nice, and their console systems are now wildly popular. If we had just considered Microsoft's past history with operating systems, could we have accurately predicted the success of the Xbox? It's doubtful. There was a time years back when ./ ran almost nothing but anti-Microsoft stories, and a lot of that general enmity translated into some early Xbox-hating. Now, Sony is the new punching bag. Will we all make the same mistake again?
      • by aichpvee (631243)
        Look at Microsoft: Their operating systems range from mediocre to absolute garbage, their office suites are pretty nice, and their console systems are now wildly popular. If we had just considered Microsoft's past history with operating systems, could we have accurately predicted the success of the Xbox?

        Wildly popular? The first xbox sold about 20 million units worldwide (this is about 14% of the market for the generation) while losing buckets of loot. The xbox 360 is going to do about 5 million units (pr
        • by BeeBeard (999187)
          This is just what I'm talking about. I don't know where you're getting your numbers, but they're not even close to reality. I'll have to assume that you were referring to market conditions back when the Xbox was first released, as opposed to the state of things now (when it's relevant).

          I'm no expert on console market share, but I do know what comes up on the first page of a Google search. Here, I've done the work for you:

          http://www.gamespot.com/news/2004/05/26/news_60993 69.html [gamespot.com]

          That article tells us that
          • by AbRASiON (589899) *
            LOL, no!

            Xbox has been a dismal failure for Microsoft and it is absoloutely selling terribly in comparison to the PS2 (or rather was)
            I think at ONE point it outsold the PS2 and the PS2 soon took over again.

            There is 100, 110? or so million PS1's and PS2's in loungerooms internationally and 20 million Xbox's

            Microsoft are basically just using their $$ to leverage their way into the market, they can afford to make a loss on the Xbox 1 and hopefully not the Xbox 360.

            They were hoping that Xbox 1 owners would all
          • by aichpvee (631243)
            I was going to reply and refute your claims, but it's not even worth my time. You're a fucking idiot. Go read that gamespot article you linked. Then gtfo out of my country. We don't need morons like you and have too many already.
      • by AbRASiON (589899) *
        Look I hate to blow my own trumpet but I completely disagree.

        http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=195886&c id=16051389 [slashdot.org]

        Sony have completely and utterly lost their shit, at this point I'm absoloutely convinced that Sony PR and Marketing, Sony management, Sony hardware engineers, Sony software engineers and finally third party game developers are all simply NOT COMMUNICATING - everything these idiots say either contradicts themselves or is just outlandishly bullshit sounding.

        Sure we should wait for th
  • by Mr. Samuel (950418) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @02:41PM (#16072170)
    ...I'd be planning every conceivable way to capitalize on Sony's situation. A small, highly advertised price drop, a pack-in game with every console, or whatever it takes.

    Yeah, Nintendo wants to create the mass appeal console, but I'm not certain that they'll crack the mainstream market yet. I'd say the Christmas season is Microsoft's to lose.

    • by 7Prime (871679)

      No way dood, forget Nintendo's previous few generations for a second... consumer memory is VERY short when deciding on new hardware anyway, especially when you look at the trends of video game console sales from generation to generation. Bottom line is: Wii is CHEAP and COMPLETELY UNIQUE in terms of design. Lackluster GameCube sales aren't going to mean crap this generations, and that's basically all MS has going for them. I have no doubt in my mind, that the holiday release of the Wii is going to be owned

      • by justchris (802302)
        Not to put too fine a point on it, but you are dead wrong. Holiday sales this season will probably look a lot like this (for the US market): DS PS2 360 Wii PSP PS3 GCN Xbox The simple reason is availability. DS, PS2 & 360 have been out long enough that they have more stock available. The bottom line is, people will go to the store to buy a Wii or PS3, and there won't be any. Most people, tired of waiting, will spend that money on a 360, or a DS if they don't have one. There simply is no possible
  • On my trawl of PSP news sites i came across one which had an article about Sony linking to a hacking site [dcemu.co.uk], i thought this is of course rubbish, but a closer look at PSP Connect [connect.com] has verified that news.
    Now i went to the site in question and theres an iso loader called DevHoook for the PSP. Surely sony dont want to offend all the game companies by linking to sites like this.
    Are Sony that desperate for users to use the playstation portable that they link to a hacking site.?
  • by monopole (44023) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @03:23PM (#16072302)
    1.Raise Prices
    2.Add more proprietary hardware
    3.Add more DRM, not playing Blu-Ray isn't enough. Destroying the disc (on the faint possibility that it is pirated) while installing a rootkit is preferred.
    4.Add exploding batteries
  • by ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) on Saturday September 09, 2006 @03:39PM (#16072345)
    For nearly every product there is negative news, as well as positive news. Where is the positive news for the Sony PS3?

    It seems that for the price they want to charge ($499/$599) everyone wants an amazing system. If the Wii ends up only having five good games, it's a pretty cheap system so people won't complain. If the PS3 has only five good games, Sony needs to fireproof their headquarters. The Xbox 360 at $299/$399 is still considered too expensive for most people, most people who like the idea of buying the 360 want a $100 price drop (I'm not saying we'll get it, but we would like it).

    Sony has created a console which gives very little room to manuever. It would only be successful under the following circumstances:
    - the Wii is a failure
    - the Xbox 360 is a failure
    - people are happy to pay $700 for a console + game + HD cables
    - manufacturing is successful at producing large numbers of PS3s

    I think Microsoft will drop the price of the Xbox 360 pretty soon to increase their install base. I think quite a lot of people will buy the Wii whether it's $170 or $225. There are a lot of complaints from people who own PS2s about the high PS3 price. Their manufacturing has been less than successful in producing the number of PS3s in the time frame needed.

    Personally I will purchase the Xbox 360 when I can get 65 nm version with a hard drive for $300. I wasn't really impressed by the footage of the Wii (IGN has a 20 minute demonstration on their website), but they may release games that appeal to me. The PS3 may be a good deal when it hits $300 for the premium version, but that will be about 3 years from now and there will be new consoles being released.

    If anyone has positive news about the PS3, could they please post it.
    • "If anyone has positive news about the PS3, could they please post it."

      Dude, the controller detects tilt [wikipedia.org]! What more do you want?

      Seriously though, exclusive games.
      • Actually the exclusive games front is negative news. Assassin's Creed, Grand Theft Auto 4 and Resident Evil 5 are coming to the Xbox 360 first day. There are exclusive PS3 titles, but no where near as many as their were on the PS2. The PS2 was cheaper than the Xbox 360 and had a lot of exclusive games. There may be exclusive by default games on the PS3 from Japanese developers because the games are developed for Japan. Don't get me wrong Gran Turismo 4, Final Fantasy XIII and Metal Gear Solid 4 will be
      • The only exclusive games in big franchises hitting the PS3 anytime soon are Gran Turismo(not a new game, just 4 in HD), Final Fantasy(main series), and Metal Gear Solid IV. All TBA 2007. That's maybe 20 million consoles(being generous and not assuming any overlap between the fanbases), and requires that FF and MGS(both series are in a sales decline as well) stay on the PS3 exclusively, which isn't assured. That's about what Nintendo pulls off with their franchises(also in decline), btw, and about how man
  • Postponing the launch may help the PS3. The basic problems with the PS3 are 1) it costs too much, and 2) Cell programming is still in the experimental stages. A relaunch in time for the 2007 holiday season might actually succeed. The games will be better, and it will be time for the price to drop to Xbox 360 levels.
    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      Yeah now try explaining that to all the developers who had PS3 games lined up for that time and give them a good reason not to simply port to the 360 instead.
  • by R5900 (699398)
    I don't what the original japanese text is, but this translation [eet.com] is actually different:

    Said Kutaragi: "If asked whether Sony's level of manufacturing technology declined, I have to admit it under the present circumstance. But Sony intends to prove its technical capabilities by manufacturing the necessary number of blue lasers from now on."

    I reckon that actual PS3 hardware is actually very good. Cell is really impressive, if you use SPUs (I do everyday, and love them - would never be able to do 1/10th of w

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