Late in its current-generation life cycle and amidst countless rumors about the upcoming Playstation 4 (or, possibly, "Playstation Orbis"), Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) is finally introducing a native YouTube app to its Playstation 3 gaming console.
The app is now available in North America and will be made available to other regions "in the coming months" for free download through the Playstation store, YouTube announced Tuesday in an official blog post.
YouTube was already accessible to Playstation 3 users, but only through the console's web browser. Adding a native app to the console adds personalization similar to that of the video service's smartphone and web-based apps-viewers can now log-in with their YouTube credentials to access their subscriptions, recommendations, and any of the site's other traditional services.
The most interesting new feature, however, is that Playstation 3 owners will now be able to use their smartphone or tablet device as a remote controller for the console's new app. "With a quick pairing process," YouTube's statement read, "you can control YouTube on PS3 with a smartphone. Find a video on your phone and with a button it'll play on the big screen. While the video is playing you can control it from the phone, or keep browsing YouTube for the next one."
This news isn't exactly revolutionary for the current console generation. Microsoft's Xbox 360 console already features this kind of cross-platform connectivity as well as voice-activated controls with the console's optional Kinect hardware. But the announcement comes shortly after an Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL) patent showed some images of console that appeared eerily similar to the Playstation 3 in a section discussing the possibility of using iPhones and iPads as remote controllers of gaming consoles like Sony's.
Could Sony, a struggling tech giant, be taking a stance to express its independence from another industry titan? It might be more useful to ask why Sony is introducing such a seemingly obvious feature so late in the current console's life-cycle. The company is also rumored to unveil a new "super-slim" model of the Playstation 3 in the near future as part of its continued effort to pare down the console to a younger, more family-friendly generation of gamers in the hopes to give the console a longer shelf life.
The Playstation Vita, the company's under-performing hand-held console already features multimedia and social integration with apps for platforms like Facebook and YouTube, after all. While Microsoft's Xbox 360 has outpaced them in terms of worldwide sales, and nobody can truly rival Apple's presence in the tech industry at this point, Sony is still making a bolder move than either of those companies towards establishing itself as a universally-integrated multi-platform approach to gaming.
The dream of "One Sony" may still be quite a ways away, but if the videogame industry continues to grow, Sony may be able to refashion itself with such an all-encompassing approach.
American depositary receipts of Sony Corporation (NYSE:SNE) fell 50 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $11.71 in late afternoon trading.