PlayStation Mobile and PlayStation Vita: Too many screens for Sony?

Sony has a new high-end handheld. Sony has Android phones and tablets. Sony's E3 press conference didn't help bring them closer together.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read
James Martin

LOS ANGELES--If E3 2012 is The Year of the Second Screen, then what does that make Sony, a company that seems to have one too many solutions to a single problem? The PlayStation Vita and the PlayStation 3 form a perfect hardware tandem, theoretically: with as many inputs as a Wii U tablet and a screen just an inch smaller, the Vita could the PS3's best friend.

And yet, less than six months after the Vita's U.S. debut, Sony's E3 press conference seemed to do precious little to expand the Vita to new landscapes of opportunity. It's a game system. Yet, where are the other apps, the remote wireless play capabilities, the second-screen possibilities for Blu-rays?

Meanwhile, the nearly incomprehensible "PlayStation Suite" for Sony's Android tablets and phones was renamed to "PlayStation Mobile." HTC was unveiled as one of the first hardware partners to be PlayStation Mobile compatible. Unfortunately, unless I wasn't listening properly, no one bothered to explain what a "PlayStation experience" actually constitutes on a device that's not a PlayStation product.

I've always wanted a true PlayStation phone. It seems we won't get one anytime soon. In lieu of that, I accept the Vita as a piece of superior hardware. The Vita has immense potential. The limiting factor is twofold: software, and Sony's ability to explain to us why the Vita is an essential product to purchase. PlayStation experience? Sony should be telling us that the only way to get a real portable PlayStation experience is on a Vita.

The PlayStation 3 isn't the top console; the Vita isn't the top handheld. Both platforms need each other. I understand why Sony is committing to a crossover PlayStation experience on its tablets and phones, but this isn't the time for cross-pollination: this is a time for strengthening the understanding and popularity of the Vita.

Either way, how long can PlayStation Mobile and PlayStation Vita continue to co-exist? As Molly Wood tweeted back to me, "Not for long, would be my guess."

If the general public can't understand the appeal of either, than that's certainly the case.