Sony’s president says he wasn’t completely surprised by Nvidia’s announcement that it plans to launch an Android-based portable gaming device.
“I wasn’t as surprised as you might think,” Kazuo Hirai told reporters on the sidelines of CES in Las Vegas on Monday. “If you look back through the pages of history, there have been other attempts.”
Nvidia said a day earlier that it plans to introduce a portable gaming device. Currently dubbed “Project Shield,” the device looks like an oversize gaming controller with a fold-up flat-panel display. Inside are a Tegra-based computer that will be able to play games from the Android marketplace, Nvidia’s own online store and a link up to the Steam PC online gaming service.
The announcement took many by surprise, not least because the portable gaming market is highly competitive and those that have tried to enter the market in recent years haven’t fared well.
“It’s difficult to break into,” Sony’s Hirai said. “I’ve managed this industry, so I know.”
Before taking the top job at Sony in April last year, Hirai had led Sony Computer Entertainment for over five years. He oversaw the turn-around of the PlayStation 3 from a loss-making product into one that makes money. He also managed the introduction of the PSP Vita handheld.
Hirai said Nvidia’s announcement could be seen as part of a multi-platform gaming trend that has seen gaming jump to other products.
“Customers are used to playing video games on not just consoles anymore, but a variety of devices,” he said.
Asked whether he thought now was a good time for a company to enter the gaming sector, Hirai said “It’s too early to tell.”
Martyn Williams produces technology news and product reviews in text and video for PC World, Macworld, and TechHive from his home outside Washington D.C.. He previously worked for IDG News Service as a correspondent in San Francisco and Tokyo and has reported on technology news from across Asia and Europe.