How enormously smart of Sony to seize the moment and "go first" without actually going first.
What we saw on that
electrifying Wednesday evening
was merely a concept of a console, flatteringly portrayed by Sony executives and yet invisible to the scrutiny of critics. We heard of a "super-charged PC" ready for developers to exploit, an operating system as slick and baggage-free as an iPhone, a console sentient enough to predict what its owners want.What we didn't see, of course, is how exactly Sony is going to achieve this. Let's not forget that Sony initially said the PS3 was an immensely powerful system that could change the colour of the sun whilst checking your emails, and look what happened to that.So it's completely understandable that there are tough questions about Sony's grand promises (example; David Perry's ambition to stream every single previous PlayStation game would require an astronomical effort to untangle twenty years of old licensing agreements).But as the Redmond-heads at Xbox mock their closest rival for not showing that sparkly box (in a sort of passive-aggressive Twitterism), they may not have noticed just how expertly Sony has played its hand.The market has been desperate for new consoles for more than two years, and Sony has placed itself at the centre of that frenzy for next-gen. It puts pressure on Microsoft to respond, and gives the Xbox team a benchmark to meet. Yet PlayStation 4 is only a philosophy right now - there's not much of the console that Microsoft can measure, let alone leapfrog.Yes, the mass-media may be a tad grumpy about being flown to New York just to see a logo, but this time Sony is shrewdly showing just some of its cards. The world is thrilled that PlayStation 4 is no longer speculation, and yet all the secrets of the machine won't be revealed until the second half of the year - by then the Next Xbox will be too close to the manufacturing phase for Microsoft to take into account the key features of its rival.Maybe Kaz Hirai was actually onto something when he said in January: "Why go first when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better?"