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Bach: There are "cautionary tales" to learn from the PSP

Entertainment and Devices president sees problems with games, UMD and storage; promises Zune won't under-deliver

Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's Entertainment & Devices division, has called out problems with Sony's PSP that he sees as "cautionary tales" to entering the handheld entertainment market.

Although he notes that financially the portable device has been successful, he highlights the UMD format, the lack of built-in storage and even Sony's games strategy as areas that haven't lived up to expectations.

"The PSP is a reasonably successful product at the profit-and-loss level. But as a product concept, there are cautionary tales to learn from it," said Bach, speaking to Dean Takahashi at Venture Beat.

"While it is good at producing audio, it’s not a good music player because it doesn’t have local storage (except for flash memory slots). You can’t keep your music there. It has a beautiful screen, but you can only get the video under the Universal Media Disc format. That format hasn't been successful.

"On a game level, it has done well. But even there, it is mostly PlayStation 2 ports. There isn’t much original content," he added.

Bach said that Microsoft's philosophy with its Zune handheld will be to take things slowly, to focus on individual elements over time instead of trying to offer everything – such as music, games and video – out of the box.

"When you do these devices, they can’t be pretty good at a lot of things. They need to be great at what they do. Zune is a great music player. We have local storage, a marketplace, the social network. We didn’t do video right out of the gate because you want to do those things in a high-quality way," he offered.

"Same thing in the gaming space. It is technically possible to do games on there. But you aren’t going to see a broad gaming effort from us until we sort that through and have it figured out.

"I don’t think of Zune like the PSP. The PSP is a game player that also does video and music. We think of Zune as a broad-based entertainment device," added Bach.

Publisher Ubisoft recently told GamesIndustry.biz that it was cautious of supporting the PSP in Europe until Sony made its strategy for the handheld much clearer.

And Sony Europe's president David Reeves admitted in May that the system was lacking new, original content.

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