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Column: Are the Xbox One and Sony PS4 set to flop?


GETTY Photo Credit: GETTY

Ten years ago, when the smartphone market was truly young, convergence was a hot idea.

The hope was that smartphones would one day become good enough to replace multiple other gadgets.

In those days mobile e-mail on any non-BlackBerry device was horrible, and the idea of effectively engaging in multimedia tasks like watching videos was a complete joke.

2013’s a different story, and smartphones, as well as tablets, are now good, if not great, at all these things.

In fact, through innovative software development, they’ve become far more capable than we could have imagined. We can one surf the Internet at 4G speeds, shoot and edit video, and learn how to play the guitar, all on one device that can fit in a pocket.

However, this innovation has come at a cost to other product categories.

This week, market research firm dramatically cut its forecast for PC sales, with one major factor being the popularity of tablets like the iPad. Additionally, both Sony and Olympus recently cut their forecasts for digital camera sales as Instagram-loaded smartphones continue to take over. And over the past couple of years, new video-game devices like the Sony PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS and Wii U have flopped as gamers opted for 99-cent mobile titles like Angry Birds.

Now, in this uncertain environment, Microsoft and Sony are about to release their latest video-game consoles - the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, respectively.

In all likelihood, this will be the last stand for the traditional consumer electronics industry, which once thrived on specialized, standalone devices.

The way it looks now, odds are these consoles are going to face an uphill battle.

Michael Comeau is a columnist and buzz editor at


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