It seems like just yesterday a little service called Netflix was changing the way people watched TV and movies, but nowadays a digital device that can't support the streaming content has no hope or surviving. At Sony's CES press conference this year, it was confirmed that not only would Netflix be coming to the PS Vita, but that the developers are hard at work to have the service available for launch.
While this confirmation may seem like somewhat of a necessity, and not too shocking considering the horsepower that the Vita has under the hood, more functionality is always a good thing. The newest handheld has impressed just about anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing it firsthand, and while we would have liked to see an in-game browser, some wishes need to be sacrificed to keep the device anywhere near affordable.
An impressive North American launch line-up and jaw-dropping specs will certainly move product, but the world has already shown that launching a new mobile games platform is something Sony still struggles with compared to the relative infallibility of companies like Apple. After a fairly strong launch of the Vita in Japan, the second week sales dropped sharply, proving that you can never give consumers enough reasons to purchase your product.
The games that have been announced for the Vita range from blockbuster to niche, so the credibility of the device as a hardcore platform is no longer in question. But from Sony's aggressive strategy and rhetoric, it's obvious that the company is once again setting their sights on becoming the one-stop multimedia source for North American and European techies. Some might say that no human can survive on one handheld alone, and a PS3 and smartphone make a Vita somewhat superfluous.
That's always going to be a fair argument, but if Sony continues to offer services like Netflix and their recently detailed cloud-based music and image software the concept of streaming one's media through a single device seems a lot more plausible. Obviously the claims of Netflix being available for the North American launch must be taken with a grain of salt, since Kaz Hirai explained that the work was being done on Netflix's end, not Sony's. The date might be met, but we've seen far too many delays this year to be confident.
If you could add another Netflix-ready device to your life in the form of the Vita, would that sweeten the deal at all? Either way, the handheld's North American launch will be an interesting one to watch. Stay tuned for all the news out of CES 2011.
The PlayStation Vita launches in North America on February 22, 2012.
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