Sony Hearts Robots, Boosts Android
If software makes a platform, Sony has just raised the fortunes of Android with the announcement of the PlayStation Suite.
The internet is abuzz over Sony's announcement that they are bringing a whole new PlayStation-branded gaming store to the Android platform. This new functionality will be branded the "Playstation Suite" and will be available to phones running Android 2.3 (aka "Gingerbread"). The Suite will include emulated PlayStation One games to start and will eventually feature new titles built expressly for the platform.
As you may be aware, recently, the hype meter has been cranked up to overload over the anticipated release of the PlayStation phone, this unforeseen announcement is arguably even bigger news than expected. While Sony-Ericsson will indeed be launching an Experia-branded "gaming" Android phone that includes a D-pad, etc., thanks to the PS Suite, every Android 2.3 phone can now in effect be considered a "PlayStation Phone".
Now that's news.
What about us "serious" developers?
Before I answer that question, let's take a little history lesson.
If my assertion that "software makes a platform" is true, then let's consider a prime past example of this principle by jumping in the WABAC (pronounced "WayBack") Machine and returning to the early days of the PC vs Mac wars.
You may recall people in the mid-nineties going on and on about the superior usability and "slickness" factor of Mac OS, of how few viruses it was subject to and how darned reliable it was. It was just plain better than Windows, you see. Strangely, this high opinion of Mac OS was shared by many PC owners. If the OS was so great, then why on earth would they still own a PC? Surely it wasn't because the Mac was short one mouse button.
The fact is that the software that most people wanted to use was only available on Windows. The amount of software available to PC users dwarfed that available on Mac, especially when it came to games. As we've discovered with iPods today, gaming was (and is) a huge driver of hardware sales. What started out as an afterthought (i.e. playing games on a business machine/playing games on a portable media player) became a core reason for the success of both the PC and the iPod/iPhone.
Now let's apply this logic to Android phones: for application developers, it doesn't matter why someone owns a device as long as they have one. Non-gaming software developers will benefit from having more Android devices in the hands of potential customers, even if those customers bought their Android phone or tablet primarily to play games on.
If this helps grow the Android install base, it will be reason for even us "serious" enterprise Flex/Flash developers to rejoice.
Following the logic explained above, if I had my way, Sony and Google would once again put their heads together and find a way of bringing GoogleTV to the PS3. GoggleTV is a hugely promising area for further growth in Flex/AIR innovation (and revenue generation) and one I am hoping to delve into in the near future (release the SDK already, Google!).
If Sony replaces the XMB OS and browser with Android and Chrome with a working Flash Player 10.x, they will have instantly brought an install base of some 40+ million new GoogleTV boxes into the market. This would represent an explosion of opportunity for Android-based developers (including us Flex RIA and AIR for Android guys).
I understand that, by definition, the GoogleTV platform requires HDMI-in. That can be addressed either by the release of a new HDMI-enabled PlayTV-type device, or Google could decide to bend their own rules a little and allow "TV-less" GoogleTV for the sake of us all.
I'd love to hear your take on all of this and the upcoming release of the Honeycomb Android OS for tablets, which I'll surely be addressing in another blog entry sometime soon.
Before I go, I can't very well mention "Sony" and "Robots" without including this video:
Thanks for stopping by.