PlayStation App is SmartGlass Challenger
OCT. 26, 2013 • Last February at the PlayStation Meeting 2013 in New York City Sony Computer Entertainment of America described the PlayStation App for Android and iOS mobile phones for the first time. Not much else was detailed on the feature until this week when SCEA disclosed the full set of features. The PlayStation app closely mirrors the functionality of Microsoft Corp.’s SmartGlass utility. The major difference is that Sony’s app does not require a subscription to PlayStation Plus in order to be used, while SmartGlass does require membership of Xbox Live. Features include: direct access to PlayStatiion Network user options, operating as a second screen for PS4 titles that support the app, using a mobile phone as an input controller, watching the gameplay of other users, buying game content from the PlayStation Store, and browsing official news and blogs. The PlayStation app will be available for free download on November 13 in North America, and on November 22 in Europe.
Impact: We suspect an unannounced yet logical future enhancement to the PlayStation app will be streaming content to mobile phones. There is no technical reason why Sony could not use its Gaikai capabilities in this fashion other than giving the PS Vita the spotlight as a marketing inducement. That would give Sony’s mobile app a distinct leg up on what SmartGlass can deliver so far. Offering remote control apps tied to consumer electronics is not a new proposition, so Sony is not breaking new ground here. The positive take-away is that Sony is ready to go with its app in conjunction with the PlayStation 4 launch without delays. And pardon us for being practical, but we think many millions of PS4 owners will take cheer in not having to invest in a wireless keyboard in order to input text into Sony’s latest console. We also like that users are not forced into a subscription in order to use the utility, although some purchase options may require a Plus membership. This is in keeping with the open access policy of the PlayStation Network, a philosophy we think fits well with consumer expectations today.