Sony Claims that UMD-Less PlayStation Portable Was Always In The Plans

Sony's Claims Raises Question Whether UMD Ever Was a Compulsory Element of PSP

by Anton Shilov
07/02/2009 | 03:46 PM

An executive of Sony Computer Entertainment said that PlayStation Portable without universal media disc (UMD) drive has been in the plans ever since the first version of the PSP was released. The claim raises question whether the UMD in general ever was a compulsory element of the company's portable entertainment system.

 

"We had planned to release a PSP model without a UMD drive since the very beginning. But if we would simply released the hardware, there wouldn't have been much for everyone to enjoy. We needed to prepare the right environment for it first - things like the transfer of content with the PS3 and PSN, and PC software to manage content like music and movies, such as Media Go," said Naoya Matsui, vice president of product planning at Sony Computer Entertainment, in an interview with GameBusiness.jp (which was partly translated by Edge Online web-site).

Universal media disc has always been somewhat controversial technology. The optical media was only supported by PSP, which allowed Sony to sell movies on such discs that could only be watched on a PlayStation Portable system and also nearly excluded piracy of video games. However, it was not exactly a goode idea for end users to movies solely for PSP. As a result, removal of UMD brings more concerns to games, but not multimedia fans, simply because very few of the latter bought PlayStation Portable.

On the other hand, back in 2005 Sony was still hardly interested in digital distribution. Although online stores like Apple iTunes were rather successful back then, Sony believed in physical media and did not have proper digital distribution infrastructure because it has not worked on its development.

"We wanted to release it when the delivery of digital content was on par with the delivery of physical media. That’s what we've been working on these past two years. We will be selling the PSP Go alongside the existing PSP models, because it's a product targeted at those people who are more accustomed to digital content," Mr. Matsui claimed.

The main difference between the new PSPgo and the original PSP is the design: instead of locating controls on the sides of the device, PSPgo features a sliding display panel with controls located under it. In addition, PSPgo replaces the UMD drive with 16GB of flash memory to store a variety of digital entertainment content. In addition to Wi-Fi, PSP Go also sports Bluetooth that allows to connect PS3 controllers, such as DualShock or SixAxis, but not for playing games, but in order "to be used when watching video content on TVs via PSP at home".