Sony first released the PlayStation Portable in 2004 (2005 for US gamers), and at first it was a decent system. Since then the portable console has undergone 2 revisions and a 'retrofit'. Today, gamers have the choice of the PSP and the PSPGo, with little difference between the two save download only content and a sizable storage space.
We have to ask ourselves, "What is the intended purpose of the PSP?"
Quite frankly it appears the purpose is portable gaming. A majority of the games for the PSP are ported games from either the PlayStation or the PlayStation 2 (with slightly degraded graphics) and very few exceptions in exclusively PSP titles in between.The biggest issue of the PSP is a total lack of standards.
First it was a pixel life, sub-pixel alignment, and color gamut - now it's UMD removal. Sony finds themselves segregating their own user base by forgetting that a gaming device is a game device first, intuitive peripheral second - clearly an unwise oversight. On the other hand, it's fairly easy to see that Sony didn't intend to put their users at such purchasing odds so easily or frequently. If users who do not own a PSP want one, they no longer have to worry about lugging around tiny odd-shaped disks and can carry on with growing standard downloadable content. Sony also cuts their own costs by removing the need to manufacture or pay to have manufactured, those awkward UMDs and get to the point with a simple, easy to track and control - download. Still, the lack of standard over time is as obvious as water on a rainy day.
Nintendo has their portable console, the GameBoy with its recent iteration dubbed the "DS" and "DSi". For the most part, the DS is similar to the Wii in that it is backwards compatible to the GamyBoy SP and some older original GameBoy titles.The DS also has a hybrid gameplay style where players can touch the screen to control elements of the game while retaining the ability to use tactile buttons and pads to control the same or other elements o the game. Nintendo, while not up to par on the graphics front has maintained a standard of 'we play games'. No matter how much you dislike how the games may look, the devices perform as intended and the games are hardly 'not fun". In short, Nintendo DS doesn't try to be something it isn't. It's game first, peripheral second.
One could then argue that the intended audience for the PSP were the same audience that owned a GameBoy. The PSP with their ported titles could play classic games such as Valkyrie Profile with a few extra revisions or Final Fantasy Tactics with new animations and voice overs just as gamers could play a redone version of Final Fantasy IV with similar revisions. In both cases many titles are 'retro', though programmers and developers have also released new original titles for the DS, and in some cases franchise continuations (i.e. Kingdom Hearts).
Enter a third party - Apple. Yes, Apple. iPhone and iPod Touch users have quietly talked about the devices doubling as portable gaming devices. With publishers such as EA and Capcom entering the fray with titles like "Madden 10" and "Resident Evil 4", it's a definite possibility. We won't touch on the quality of the games from major publishers at this point but suffice to say that their presence on the low end gives them nowhere to go but up or off and given the reputation of both, i'd bank on up instead of off.
Where the 'i' devices succeed is that their relatively untested waters rife with life and marketability, so naturally big name publishers and developers do not want to miss the chance to grab their share of that user base. The quality of the games right now however, is a bit subpar due to hardware limitations and interface design and being a true gaming platform has more to do with the interface than it does the developers or the desire to develop. See, while a touch screen is great for picking music, tweeting, or updating a Facebook status there are real estate issues when using two thumbs on a screen where there is action taking place. And, let's face it, the accelorometer isn't the fastest registering thing in context to action based games not to mention that on a small areas such at the 'i' devices, you're tampering with your relatively stable focal point while playing. It's not a design flaw of any kind, it's just not an ideal platform interface for what world of gaming at this particular time. Sony tends to see the 'i' devices as having threatening aspects.
That being said, the PSPGo will likely be another of many Sony failures because rather than taking a lesson from Nintendo and moving in a linear product fashion by making the PSP to be a PSP, it's too busy trying to combat things it isn't,