Microsoft Working on PSP Killer

Microsoft Working on PSP Killer

It appears that the success of the PSP has not left Microsoft unimpressed as new reports suggest J Allard is already heading a project to create a handheld entertainment device.

According to the new reports, Microsoft has plans for a device that will offer gaming, video and music and will directly compete with Sony's PSP and Apple's iPod devices. The story, unveiled by Dean Takahashi on Mercury news, suggests that Microsoft is very serious about this device and has afforded the project its best talent in order to guarantee its success. So the cast for the new handheld includes J Allard as the lead and XBox 360 system designer Greg Gibson as project director, with XBox finance chief Bryan Lee in charge of the money.

Although most media reports on Microsoft plans had suggested that the company was working on an iPod killer this more recent report suggests that MS has set its sights on Sony's PSP, a step which might be better understood if you consider the bigger picture of content distribution since Sony is attempting to corner that market with its UMD format. If Microsoft succeeds to launch a viable alternative it will be in a strong position to act as a content distributor for games, movies and music and Sony's PSP has indicated that there is potential in that market provided you get the pricing right.

The story suggests that there is potential in the market but MS will most probably not have the product ready to launch this year and may need two years before it can get it to market although the rapid progress of the Origami project does suggest otherwise. The road to a Microsoft handheld has been filled with doubt however and such news has to be considered in the right context. Microsoft plans to create a handheld device were first revealed during the original XBox creation process when a device dubbed the XBoy was incepted. Then, when X360 was on the drawing board, new plans were mentioned which were again shelved. It is believed that the technology at the time was either not available or not affordable in order to produce a gaming handheld which could play XBox-quality games while Microsoft was still developing its content delivery service which will fight iTunes, codenamed Alexandria.

If the device does take another two years to be released it will probably be able to play XBox-quality games for sure and that would mean a guaranteed stable of well-known titles but waiting for another two years could allow Sony a lead similar to that which the Playstation 2 had over the original XBox. The idea would be for Microsoft to tie the new product in with the XBox consoles as Peter Moore said It can't just be our version of the iPod, stating that the Xbox brand an opportunity.

The main evidence cited by the Mercury news report states that Transmeta had 30 engineers assigned to Microsoft last year in an attempt to help design a chip that would not use too much power in order to extend battery life on mobile devices. It is unlikely that the collaboration had to do with the Origami as that must have already been well into its development cycle.

This news has the potential to change the face of the market but if it is true that we will have to wait until 2007 or 2008 to see an MS handheld we have to accept that Apple and Sony will have plans of their own for the future.