Console Disappointments: The PS3 Web Browser
Welcome to the first in a possible series of submissions – if not articles depending on actual approval – about my opinion about certain aspects of this console generation. Perceived disappoints to be exact. I’ll try to keep them short, sweet and hopefully thoughtful.
First up: the PS3 browser. Something that I’ve defended on more than one occasion, given suggestion for sites to visit, but can only admit has problems. And while its far from being as good as the worst browser on a PC you can think of, as a casual use application I’ve found it good enough for an evening of Youtube rather than a few minutes in a chair and a monitor smaller than my TV. Accepted the reality it crashing for no real reason because as system updates came, the browser became more stable.
It also, at least on a site which is in assumed partnership with Sony, has allowed for direct video downloading from the console, become less accessible. Videos cannot be voted or comment on, searches can be run but anything other options also call up a search, direct management of personal accounts is impossible, and really oddly, videos in channel pages wont run. There also seems to have been a drop in picture quality which becomes obviously noticeable when an ad run at a higher resolution.
There is the alternative of YoutubeXL which was supposedly made specifically for the PS3, but its exactly as worthless as the main site has become. Useable but non-interactive. A problem that Youtube proper started to have soon after XL was introduced, and really strangely, one that kept recurring after a PS3 system update seemingly fixed the issue. In other words, the site went from working as it would in any other browser, to having function become inactive, to working properly once more after an update before turning semi-inactive again. To within literal days with updates eventually having no effect.
It took the rumored announcement of Youtube looking into the creation of an app similar to Netflix and Hulu for all consoles to suggest the obvious: that it was Youtube itself which was limiting the PS3’s browser to their site. From a business standpoint, especially if they decide to go with some pay-based model or limited exclusivity with this app they may eventually make, having one of the three gaming systems already having free and decent access would put them in a weak bargaining position. And blocking it overnight, suddenly reducing access to its actual current state, would just piss people off while telling them exactly why they were doing it. Better to lower the bar early.
BlipTV and Dailtymotion are other little mysteries that come to me. Don’t know if they both use the same streaming player, just that were once I could watch videos from them and associated sites directly, I haven’t been able to do so for close to two years. MP3 file content can be directly downloaded, but anything else has to be streamed from PC. Old phased out web code is likely to blame, but like the issues with Youtube there was a period where an update fixed the issue. Then another happened which brought it up again.
So where I’m sort of pointing a conspiratorial finger at Youtube for pulling a semi-Hulu, I’m outright stabbing it at Sony. Given that both sites host pirated content along with tons of legitimate web-shows – Spoony, That Guy With the Glasses – its not to far a stretch that such was done to control what content gets onto the PS3. And again, both these sites are about as well known as Youtube.
Now, I’m only offering my own opinion and conjecture, but if what I’m suggesting is true then this has more validity then OtherOS. Is something Sony has offered as open, yet for whatever reason – changes in management and policy – have covertly scaled back and are controlling. It also occurs to me that if Geohot and Anonon were even a fraction of the everyman hero they think they are, they’d look into the PS3;s browser code to see why it is what it is.
Oh well, so much for short...
Please note I'm not talking about the overall quality of the PS3's browser, but that it can and has been manipulated. Certainly by Hulu and Youtube, but possibly Sony as well. That it is at the quality that it is because its manipulatable. That if at all possible this should be shown and Sony made to answer for it because - in spirit at the very least - it was offered as an open platform.