While the PSP seems to be the black sheep of the current crop of gaming consoles (and apparently loved the least), there's quite a lot of buzz about its next incarnation, whether it's part of the x000 line or a sequel.
There's definitely something brewing over in the Sony labs, whether it's the next PlayStation Portable model or a mind-controlling device able to reduce brain cells into globs of jelly (or both). In the gaming industry, rumors of improved hardware designs are not unheard of, especially when consumer feedback regarding the current version is less than spectacular. And just as lackluster are the PSP's sales figures -in comparison to Nintendo's DS handheld system--despite Sony's over-enthusiastic promotional numbers. With that said, rumors will fly and concept images will circulate, many times generated by disgruntled consumers wanting something better, other times by insiders wanting to please those very same disgruntled people who wouldn't give a second thought about throwing the first stone.
The latest rumor to churn out of the mill is speculation that Sony is indeed working on the PSP-4000, not the recently rumored PSP 2. The new unit supposedly features a slideable screen, however nothing points to Sony's using the highly-coveted touch-screen technology. In fact, according to VG247, the PSP-4000 will use the console's existing technology, but rather undergo a "complete aesthetic overhaul." Of course, Sony has not officially announced the new version's existence, however there seems to be some common knowledge within the industry that the PSP-4000 will make an appearance at either GDC or E3 this year. We say the latter.
Back in December, Sony denied rumored plans regarding the PSP 2. However, in light of recent weeks, it's obvious that the company remains focused on the current platform, seeking to perfect the handheld device rather than manufacture a whole new system. Supposedly, the PSP-4000 will ship some time this year according to Eurogamer, however is Sony's efforts in vain? Many developers complain that Sony doesn't put enough effort into promoting the product. The platform lacks big name AAA titles, and because of its initial identity crisis suffered just after launch, the handheld really didn't get its footing as a competitive, handheld multimedia system.
With that said, is the PSP better than Apple's iPone and iPod Touch? PSM3 magazine editor Daniel Dawkins seems to think so, especially in the hardware department. He told Techradar that Sony should re-market the PSP -when the PSP-4000 launches- as a communication device with Skype and other social networking tools built in. But as past experience dictates, such promotional efforts didn't fly too well at the PSP's initial launch, touted as a multimedia device that plays games, music and even DVD-quality movies on the company's new UMD format. While the idea seemed spectacular at first, sales dictated that the idea didn't really catch on, and retail outlets quickly pulled huge libraries of UMD off the shelves, including Walmart and Best Buy.
There's no question that the PSP console needs a reboot, or at least a relaunch in the same sense as the Nintendo DS transforms into the DSi. Granted gamers can download full PSP games, old classics and demos onto inserted PSP SD cards, Sony should make available downloadable PSP-formatted TV shows, movies, and even offer music if it wants to battle Apple in the portable multimedia market.
Earlier today Sony announced that the Go!Messenger service will be withdrawn by BT and Sony starting March 31. According to a SCEE staffer, the service did not achieve the desired amount of registrations and regular users.