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The Vita is Sony's first shot at taking over the mobile industry

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I speculate that the Vita may be a huge deal. It is no accident that the Vita's UI, LiveArea, looks like a tablet/smartphone OS, and can be navigated by only the touchscreen. It *is* a tablet/smartphone OS. Sony is planning to spin LiveArea off onto its own devices as a standalone OS to challenge iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

Evidence:

1. It has the makings of a modern OS.
At version 1.6, LiveArea already has features that took Apple iOS until version 5 to develop, including apps (iOS 2), picture messaging (iOS3), multitasking (iOS4), notifications (iOS5), and file management. LiveArea will continue to be refined, and features will be added. With WebOS, iOS, and Android to copy from, it's in some ways in a better place than iOS, which was never designed with notifications or multitasking in mind.

They could add phone, texting, and email apps and plop LiveArea on a cell phone right now. Sony already has experience making custom operating systems for phones; they did it all the time back in the days of Sony Ericsson dumbphones. LiveArea is already more capable than those dumbphones ever were.

It is also fast and sleek, capable of smoothly jumping in and out of games and quickly launching and closing apps.


2. Sony is developing their own app/game store.
They're currently in the process of recruiting developers to the Playstation Suite, a virtual machine platform which runs on Playstation Certified devices (XPERIA PLAY, Tablet S, etc.). The Vita (and LiveArea) is in the process of becoming Suite-compatible, and Suite apps and games will become integrated into the PlayStation Network Store.

Sources:
http://www.digitalspy.com/gaming/news/a340666/playstation-suite-to-bring-android-games-to-vita-tokyo-game-show-2011.html

https://www.scei.co.jp/pss/closedbeta/form_e.html


3. Hirai has pretty much admitted it.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-57376555-17/will-the-playstation-vita-os-land-on-smartphones-tablets/?part=rss&subj=latest-news&tag=title


4. Hirai is all about linking products together and stuff

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/10/us-sony-hirai-idUSTRE81905C20120210

5. Sony bought out Ericsson's share in the cellphone venture and now has complete control over doing whatever the hell they feel like with their phones.

6. Sony Tablets support DualShock controllers now apparently, so there is less of a control barrier.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-12-20-sonys-tablet-s-gets-dualshock-3-support


I speculate that LiveArea will run on top of Sony Android devices before Sony makes the complete switch and starts running their own show. From my experience, most people want a tablet for "Internet and email and movies and stuff, maybe games" and a LiveArea-powered device could definitely do all that, especially when coupled with Sony's existing gaming hardware and their fleet of skilled developers. They might not have the 200,000 apps that iOS does, but they do have a massive software library of literally thousands of titles from PS1/PS2/PSP that they could push onto their Suite devices.

What do you think? I think it'd be exciting to see Sony start competing on a meaningful level again.



( Edited 14.02.2012 12:20 by keith )

Senior ModeratorStaff MemberOur member of the week

I would have rather thought that the Xperia Play was their first shot ?

I'm actually more interested in an open system like the Xperia Play where I can put anything I want on the device, because it's powered by Android, rather than owning a completely closed system where almost nothing is available for free. Plus, the Xperia Play as it is has all the benefits of the Android Market, which the Vita OS doesn't. It's far too early to say whether it'll become a widespread OS on other mobile devices.

Lastly, knowing Sony, they will neither make it freely available to all the other mobile devices manufacturers, nor make it open source for anyone to develop for should they want to. Android has already surpassed the iOS on mobile devices in terms of market share (whether or not it is as reliable as Apple's iOS is a completely different debate though). Not being available on devices that are not Sony-branded and not being open source are two things that would limit the penetration rate of such a new mobile OS if they were to decide to make it a widespread solution. Because Sony neither has the fashionable image that Apple has on one hand, and would lack the advantages of an open source and free system like Android has. That's my opinion.

I don't see LiveArea running on top of Android either. LiveArea being a fully working standalone OS from the look of things. What they could do however is making a frontend that mimicks the LiveArea, running on top of Android. That would be possible and typical of Sony since they're known to do that already. My Xperia X8 came with a stock Sony frontend... which I quickly ditched for a custom CyanogenMod rom Smilie. What would be the point of doing that however, I don't know. It's not like anyone "needs" a LiveArea frontend.

Obviously at the end of the day, this is all but pointless rambling and pure speculation, and no one knows what the future holds. But unless Sony changes some of its policies, I don't see LiveArea as a mobile OS on other devices than Vita becoming the next big thing, should that happen.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

It all boils down to the games, pricing, interest & functionality....which sony hasn't won enough people's trust on these.

From constant firmware updates to fix constantly arrising issues (google or kotaku it) to the lack of AAA titles outside of like 5....this might end up being the psp all over again. But like I posted in the other thread, HOPEFULLY they'll offer deals for early adopters as inventive for more people to get it. Like drasticly reduced UMD downloads since sony is screwing us over by not bringing the UMD passport outside of Japan!!

It is not wise to speak on subjects you do not know all facts about, nor is it smart to judge a game based on looks alone. PSN: Nintendo_Gamer 3DS: 4296-3029-7422
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I don't see why they'd bother trying to compete with iOS and Android. The overwhelming question for me is why? What's the advantage of LiveArea? Who would honestly rather have a LiveArea phone over Android or iOS?

At version 1.6, LiveArea already has features that took Apple iOS until version 5 to develop, including apps (iOS 2), picture messaging (iOS3), multitasking (iOS4), notifications (iOS5), and file management.

It had better, it launched well after iOS! That's kinda like praising a modern car for having more features than the Model T.

( Edited 14.02.2012 16:17 by Jacob4000 )

C3 Moderator

Plus, the Xperia Play as it is has all the benefits of the Android Market, which the Vita OS doesn't. It's far too early to say whether it'll become a widespread OS on other mobile devices.

That's a great point. I think a device running LiveArea would be nicer to use than something layered on top of Android. Sony would certainly prefer running their own operating system, versus being dependent on Google, even if people who prefer Android wouldn't.


Not being available on devices that are not Sony-branded and not being open source are two things that would limit the penetration rate of such a new mobile OS if they were to decide to make it a widespread solution. Because Sony neither has the fashionable image that Apple has on one hand, and would lack the advantages of an open source and free system like Android has. That's my opinion.

Playstation Certification is already available to other manufacturers - HTC is apparently the first to join. The developer program is currently in "closed beta", but anyone can apply and it appears that they're looking to have the same open-to-all sort of development program as iOS or Windows Phone.

Sony doesn't need to compete directly with iOS and Android in a grab for OS marketshare. At this point, they compete more directly with hardware manufactures like Samsung and Lenovo, and their Tablet S's and XPERIA's are selling poorly. Devices running LiveArea, with access to the massive Playstation library, would have a unique advantage over more generic Android tablets and phones.

Also, that's a myth. Android is not "open source and free" to the consumer, when devices come pre-loaded with crapware that can't be removed.

Jacob4000 said:
I don't see why they'd bother trying to compete with iOS and Android. The overwhelming question for me is why? What's the advantage of LiveArea? Who would honestly rather have a LiveArea phone over Android or iOS?

Why wouldn't Sony want their own OS? Their game consoles have *always* run their own OS; why shouldn't their phones and tablets? They're not doing so hot running Android right now. LiveArea would not only give them Apple-like control over their devices, but it'd differentiate Sony products from the Android-running competition, and also generate revenue if they decide to license the OS out to other OEMs.

I would honestly rather have a LiveArea phone if it could do Playstation-y stuff like access PSN titles and sync save files across my other Playstation devices. Wouldn't you?

LiveArea is also rather nice to use. I prefer its multitasking model, which reminds me of WebOS, to iOS's and Android's.

And Android isn't without huge issues, for example:
http://theunderstatement.com/post/11982112928/android-orphans-visualizing-a-sad-history-of-support

Graphs like that make me want to avoid Android devices.

It had better, it launched well after iOS! That's kinda like praising a modern car for having more features than the Model T.

I was just making the point that LiveArea is equivalent to modern smartphone OSs, as evidence to the speculation of it being ported to other devices. If it didn't have those features then I probably would've stopped rambling there.



( Edited 15.02.2012 00:39 by keith )

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Their game consoles have *always* run their own OS; why shouldn't their phones and tablets? They're not doing so hot running Android right now. LiveArea would not only give them Apple-like control over their devices, but it'd differentiate Sony products from the Android-running competition, and also generate revenue if they decide to license the OS out to other OEMs.

*Every* game console has its own OS, because there is no OS out there that truly caters to the specific hardware each platform holder makes. With a phone though, Android already kinda does everything you need. There's no need to reinvent the wheel, so I don't see why Sony would bother other than to have the control you mention. And that doesn't really sell itself well to consumers unless you have a mega app-store to help people look past that frustration (Apple).

I don't really see the closed eco-system thing as a plus. It's the reason I will not invest in Apple products. It only becomes palatable if there's enough to do inside the walled garden to prevent you from looking beyond the fence at what you're missing out on. I don't think LiveArea will have anywhere near that kind of clout for the foreseeable future.

Second of all, if they're going to try to push a closed ecosystem appeal like you're speaking of, they can't really run with your other option which is to license to OEMs. Then you have the same fragmentation issues that people criticize Windows and Android for. Not that I think anyone else would actually license LiveArea, just that if that did indeed happen LiveArea ceases to be a truly controlled environment.

The only way I see this happening is if they somehow manage to include a bit of Android in it, as Kafei is saying the Xperia Play already has. Because it's honestly too late in the game to go your own way in the smartphone world.

C3 Moderator

>*Every* game console has its own OS, because there is no OS out there that truly caters to the specific hardware each platform holder makes. With a phone though, Android already kinda does everything you need.

OK, so why couldn't the Vita run Android? And can phones/tablets not also have "specific hardware"?

Kindle Fire ran only its own Amazon approved apps and it apparently sold pretty well. Most people really don't care about "openness". And iOS is way more "open" than any Nintendo console has ever been. LiveArea devices will presumably have access to thousands of titles on the PSN store, as well as apps from their development program. It is like Kindle for games.

And remember, Sony does not need to outsell iOS or Android. If they can beat Samsung or HTC then they are "winning", or at least in a better place they currently are.

The Playstation Suite ecosystem is already fragmented. Somehow, PS Suite apps and games are expected to run equally well on devices such as the Xperia PLAY and the bizarre dual-screened Tablet P. I have no idea how it works, if it works at all. The point is that all devices that access PS Suite are "Playstation Certified", which presumably means that they meet some sort of criteria, though I have no idea what criteria that could currently be. Sony is in the process of approving PS Certified devices by HTC, and it is not inconceivable that OEMs could eventually build devices to a more restricted PS Certified spec that is capable of running LiveArea.

>Because it's honestly too late in the game to go your own way in the smartphone world.

Why? Do you think we will use only Android, iOS, and Windows Phone forever?

Look, this discussion wasn't supposed to be about whether or not you or I *like* the idea of a Sony operating system, or if we would want one �" the point was that it is feasible, that there would be benefits to Sony, and that there is evidence for it, especially as the former Playstation head takes over as CEO.

And they are definitely up to something; why else would they be recruiting for a development program that will likely support "Book/Comic, Shopping, Social network, Tool/Utility, Business, News, Business efficiency, Finance, Photo/Movie, Music/Audio, Life style, Weather, Traffic/Navigation, Medical/Health/Fitness, Education, Travel/Local, and Communication" apps?



( Edited 15.02.2012 07:22 by keith )

Senior ModeratorStaff MemberOur member of the week

Android is an open system, and very easy to bypass to become king of the castle on the hardware running it (rooting an android phone is super easy, much more so than the famous "jailbreak" of an iPhone. And when that's done, you can pretty much do anything you want on it.

Allowing that on a portable console would be exactly like if Nintendo let you install the Homebrew Channel on Wii right from the start, without any need for hacking (rooting your phone is a bit of a hack, sure, but it's far more easy and better documented). That's why they won't put Android on Vita, or at least one of the obvious reasons thereof. The PSP was so easily hacked, which hampered software sales like flashcarts did on DS, so they had no reason to repeat the same mistakes with the Vita)

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Ah, that makes complete sense. It's the same reason why Sony dropped Linux from the PS3. Ostensibly.

Are all Android devices really that easy to root? I was under the impression that some were still locked down.

edit - also, if android is vulnerable then it makes sense that Sony would want PS Suite devices to run their proprietary LiveArea.

Is app piracy on Android rampant?

( Edited 15.02.2012 07:50 by keith )

Senior ModeratorStaff MemberOur member of the week

Sony would want its own system instead of Android only for the reason of vulnerability, but Android is maintained by a far bigger community at little to no cost for the manufacturers embedding it on their systems. AND Android already has won over the masses, so it's the safest OS to bet on in the mobile world atm.

Android is pretty easy to unlock yeah, as far as I know. I don't know of any device that you can't unlock, but if you know, please do share. Didn't have any problem rooting mine.

I dunno how much rampant app piracy is on Android, but I do know that finding .apk files is as easy as just googling them (had to download my youtube app that way because it was banned from my country, doesn't come on any Android devices bought over here, and can't be found on the Android market if you're logging onto it from Belgium).

( Edited 15.02.2012 12:07 by Kafei2006 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Kindle Fire ran only its own Amazon approved apps and it apparently sold pretty well.

Yes - Amazon has a massive storefront to go with it. They're the only company that can compete with Apple on that front. They're also selling it at an extremely competitive price.

And remember, Sony does not need to outsell iOS or Android. If they can beat Samsung or HTC then they are "winning", or at least in a better place they currently are.

Samsung sells even more phones than Apple does. When was the last time Sony had a phone anyone cared about? Their biggest success of the last few years is the Xperia line, which isn't exactly setting the world ablaze. If anyone is going to upset the current balance of power, I just don't see it being Sony.

Why? Do you think we will use only Android, iOS, and Windows Phone forever?

For the foreseeable future, yes. And LiveArea doesn't offer anything that looks to change that.

Look, this discussion wasn't supposed to be about whether or not you or I *like* the idea of a Sony operating system, or if we would want one �" the point was that it is feasible, that there would be benefits to Sony, and that there is evidence for it, especially as the former Playstation head takes over as CEO.

Sure its feasible. It's also feasible that Nintendo starts making mobile phones. Is that going to happen? I would argue against that possibility. I'm saying it doesn't make any sense for Sony to get in on the smartphone OS business with LiveArea. You might be able to dig up circumstantial evidence that points toward a possibility, but that doesn't change my argument that it doesn't make business sense for them to do this.

edit: That's not to say that the OS will only ever be on the Vita. Sony did use the XMB for other things, for instance. I just don't see them actually trying to take on Android or iOS, or being able to " over the mobile industry". There's little chance of success in trying that.

( Edited 15.02.2012 15:28 by Jacob4000 )

C3 Moderator
Spider (guest) 24.02.2012 01:20#12

I think the OP is onto something here.

Yoshida said the 3G SKU is an experiment and an investment in the future

http://www.computerandvideogames.com/336618/sony-3g-vita-is-an-experiment-for-the-future/

And the 3G version has a phone number and can receive text messages from your phone right now.

http://vita.ign.com/articles/121/1219139p1.html

Their phones and tablets have underperformed with android. Part of the reason is due to lack of marketing and another reason is lack of quality products and software. I don't think they need to beat Samsung and HTC in order to succeed, they just need more quality products out and more advertising.

I don't think they will say F android and go all Vita SKU in 2013, I think they will say Android phones and tablets, as well as Vita OS phones and tablets, and maybe even Windows phones and tablets. If they want this to succeed though, they need to get it out of the door and available for us to buy by Black Friday. They need to be on every major US carrier so that you can get your phone subsidized (Sprint, ATT, Verizon, TMobile).

I think they will definitely try it. The evidence is just too strong. The question is, when will they do it and how long will it it take? Like I said, if we don't have an announcement by E3/Gamescom/TGS and we don't have the device available to be bought (even if with just one carrier initially) by the end of this year, then it will have already failed IMO.

Pros
- Full control and ecosystem
- High Reward if successful
- Can license to 3rd parties and make lots of money like they want to do with Suite

Cons
- Very hard to do, high chance of failure
- Sony moves SLOW. Playstation Suite was supposed to be out last year. Devices still coming out in Gingerbread and not ICS.
- No android marketplace
- Will need Phone Vita SKU and Vita tablet SKU, along with Android (and maybe Windows) SKUs. That's a lot of stuff to maintain.

Jacob, just wondering: did you read the entirety of my first post before making your replies?

Anyway, I got my Vita today. The OS is a bit unrefined, but I could imagine it replacing my iPhone if it had the necessary phone-y apps and had some bits tightened up here and there. I complained a little about it in the "general ps3/vita thread".

Most importantly, LiveArea is smooth, stable, and has plenty of room for expansion, even at version 1. It could work as a tablet/phone OS, even if you would not want it and do not believe that it would be a valid business move for Sony.

( Edited 25.02.2012 12:42 by keith )

Some person at Forbes makes the same arguments I did: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2012/03/17/sonys-ps-vita-is-not-a-smartphone-but-it-could-give-birth-to-one/

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