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With the release of Playstation TV, Sony jumps on the bandwagon of set-top boxes with the intention of challenging directly new competitors on the same market, such as Google, who is about to release its own Android TV in partnership with Asus, and the whole world of media streamers and micro consoles like the Ouya, Apple TV, Roku, and so on and so forth. And this is where things get confusing. I am starting from the assumption that Sony is actually trying to compete against all these other devices, but this isn't necessarily the case apparently.
Playstation TV is a tiny box that allows to play Vita games on a big screen, but not all games, and stream content off the internet, but not all of it. The marketing behind this device is bizarre, to say the least. Several times during the past years the Japanese giant managed successfully to create hype and expectations on its products, and the second they get released, they immediately forget they even exist. When the Vita was first announced, I was drooling. I bought my Vita on day one, and sadly, for reasons beyond me, assisted to Sony treating its portable console like the junkie cousin nobody wants to invite over for Christmas. Vita has a lot of potential, and many fantastic games, and yet it struggles to sell and get constantly stumped on by the 3DS - and I am quite confident that it still was on the market, it would be outsold by the Game Gear too.
Let's start with the obvious. PS TV is a niche product. Much more than the Android TV. If Google is marketising it as streaming device that could also play games and run apps, Sony is going for a "Uhmm... It's a... thing... that plays some games from a console that shall remain unnamed, and it also play PS1 and PSP games, right? And... You know, you can remote play from your PS4, if you own one, and... uhmm... stream... things... off the... interwebs, I guess." This is not how to sell a product.
Sony should go the extra mile and sell this box to those who don't own a PS4 and aren't planning to buy one. I understand that Sony wants to push home consoles, but not everyone is willing to spend £350 on it. Their message should be "Hey, if you are on a budget, come and play awesome games on our cheapest and smallest console ever!" They should use it as a tool to get people excited about the Playstation brand and push Vita games sales up. Sony has a good product in its hands, and with a decent marketing, it could go a long way and get the attention of more casual gamers that aren't willing to invest on a Vita or PS4. Once customers are in your ecosystem, then it's easier to sell them portable consoles ("You can get of the couch and keep playing on the train!") or home consoles ("Switch to a PS4, and you could use your PS TV to play games in your bedroom while your wife complaints you want to play The Last of Us instead of having sex with her!").
And yet Sony doesn't do anything like that. Instead of trying to get new customers, it markets Playstation TV to a smaller user base with needs too specific to be profitable.
Another strategy Sony could use could be "Hey, you are not even interested in playing games at all? Come and get a Playstation TV anyway! You can stream Netflix on it!" But no. Not possible. No Netflix on it. Launching on the market a set-top box with no Netflix it's a commercial suicide. Now that you can watch Netflix on any sort of device, including 12 years old Nintendo Wii, not having Netflix on Day 1 it is the plain stupid.
Playstation TV is the answer to a question nobody asked. It is an interesting device with a lot of potential that won't sell because nobody knows it even exists in the first place, and because even for those who know it is a tangible, physical object, its purpose is unclear, and the marketing behind it is sloppy and confusing.
In a world where even Apple TVs sell, Playstation TV it is sadly destined to fail miserably, if Sony doesn't step up and change its strategy.