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Interviews

Sony's Andrew House Pt. 2

PlayStation's president on Vita, PS3's lifecycle and the future of Sony

Page 2 of 3

How long can you sustain the PS3's console cycle for? It has been just about the longest a Sony console has been on sale for.

Not quite: PS2 was on the market longer before PS3 came out - it went from 2000 to 2007, a full seven years before we launched a new platform. We're just entering into this great period for PS3 - I don't think we're contemplating talking about anything to do with future console iterations at this point.

But one thing I always point to is that, somewhat in contrast to our major competitors, we have, particularly with PS2, managed the length of the lifecycle and ensured its profitability for our publishing partners for a much longer lifecycle than has been true of the competition.

Zoom

I would say that's in part because of the global reach of Sony from a distribution, infrastructure and marketing standpoint. Because in many markets, we work alongside really long-standing, established operations in electronics, we're able to migrate out into rather more emerging markets much more easily and sustainably than is possible for some of our competitors.

Can you see the console model changing significantly in the future, particularly with the advent of download and streaming games?

There are clearly a lot of opportunities with regard to business models around games, all of which we're interested in and are exploring. Some of our group companies already have a stake in free-to-play models and so on. But in my view, for the very highest quality high-definition console gaming, I think there are still some significant barriers to streaming solutions.

Whether it's in mobile or cloud-based services, there are opportunities there for more casual content and in our case potentially for legacy content, which we would definitely like to explore. But I think we are a way away from being able to deliver the full-on top-end experience like that.

The scale of data involved and issues around latency do mean that, at least for now, the easiest consumer experience is from physical media. Although, having said that, we're starting to see some growth in the number or proportion of our consumers that want to access their content via download. But I think it's still pretty small.

You need pretty fast broadband for that.

Yes, you need pretty fast broadband. But interestingly, some of our consumer data is saying that consumers' expectation, or their perception of how fast their broadband connection is, doesn't necessarily match the physical reality. So I think there's an expectation gap there that needs to be overcome.

Zoom

You moved back to Japan, but you were based here in the past when you were working for Sony electronics.

I'll talk about me, and then I'll talk about the family. The challenge for me has been getting back to a point where I'm operating for 90 to 95 per cent of the day in Japanese. I think I was about two weeks into the job, when it was six o'clock in the evening, and I was feeling kind of strange and somewhat tired. I thought: "What's up with me?" Then I realised I hadn't spoken a word of English all day, since I got up in the morning, and that was probably the crucial factor.

Getting to grips with that is kind of like riding a bike, I think. If you've done a job before where you operate in a second language, it does come flooding back. The advantage of being able to access Japanese dictionaries online immediately is something that didn't exist when I was here last, and that's been very helpful.

As far as the family is concerned, I'm kind of blessed, really, in making this transition. My wife is Japanese and my children are bilingual. Interestingly enough, in my son's case, he's just been like a duck to water. My children are both enjoying life. They are sixteen and twelve - not necessarily the easiest age to move countries. And it was their second move, so they're essentially Californian kids - they're going to an American school here.

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