|3DS, this machine's coming to get you.|
Sony has thrown down the gauntlet at Nintendo's feet, pricing the PS Vita exactly the same as the current Nintendo 3DS. In a head-to-head hardware matchup, the 3DS pales in comparison to the gorgeous HD 5" OLED touchscreen, rear touch panel, dual analog controls, dual cameras, and amazing raw horsepower that puts it close to the PS3 in performance.
Given that the 3DS has not exactly set the world on fire with its sales or its features or its software so far, this is shaping up to be a real battle for the holiday season when the PS Vita finally ships. Nintendo has about six months to ship some really strong titles, encourage third-party developers to do the same, get some good marketing programs in place... and maybe reduce the price to $199 before the holidays. So far, the software for the 3DS has not been impressive, and the hardware is clunky, and customers don't seem to find the 3D effect more than a gimmick (and one that about 25% of the audience either can't stand or can't notice). I think the 3DS will have to be $50 cheaper than the PS Vita if it wants to be at all competitive. A better version of the hardware would be nice, one that was smaller and lighter with better battery life.
Sony's not ignoring the threat from smartphones, either, by making the PS Vita compatible with the PlayStation Suite for Android. Old PSP titles that were downloadable can play on the PS Vita, too. This all may not be enough to really deal with the threat of smartphones, but Sony seems to understand the nature of the problem, which is more than I can say for Nintendo.
It's shaping up to be an interesting Christmas this year.