Friday, April 08, 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | PSP embraced by DIY technicians

*I luv the PSP*

It's jaw dropping gorgeous, the design is award worthy, the graphics are even better the the current x-box and PS2, its functionality is insane varied. Only pity is the price-tag.

Seriously though, the focus on this article is about people 'hacking' the system and providing unauthorised software (for now) that extends the functionality of the machine. The same thing happened with the i-pod where there are some software on the internet that enable it to work as a portable harddisk as well.

The most famous example for such modification is of course counter-strike (CS) based on the Valve's Half-Life engine and still the most popoular LAN game still. It's now thoroughly commercialised with its latest incarnation as CS: Condition Zero. But it goes to show the single inventor (or maybe improver) is not dead.

There's nothing fundamentally illegal about it but it does raise two issues.

1. Liability of the company. Well obviously some of these functions were specifically limited for fear of legal liability. For example, the reason why the i-pod cannot function as a portable harddisk is to prevent users from sharing MP3 files. The PSP with its memory stick and UDC (mini cd but with near DVD capacity) capabilities would of course function similarly when one considers its capacity to play DVD quality movies on the handset.

2. Profits. The othe reason is of course, profits. If the i-pod were to readily allow the sharing of files then this in turn would affect the earnings of i-tunes. In a similar vein, sony would want to encourage people to buy more copies of their games hence the need for the hack to play the mulit-player mode of games with A SINGLE copy.

So the situation as it stands is the deliberate crippling of their hardware is couple with a general disclaimer clause that evades liability to users who use such hacks. This of course keeps the movie and music people happy. BUT, do recall that Sony owns MGM amongst other studios and data content providers, so arguably this has less to do with legal liability than deliberate profit making through false scarsity (Monopoly theory anyone?)

So while I can understand the reasons for deliberately crippling their hardware, I think it's fundamentally to consumers. I mean we want such natural components and we don't think its fair to forsk out more than $700 locally to half a crippled machine!

Power to consumers! Consumers of the world unite! *couhg cough*



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