PS3: It only does everything? Not Linux any more.

This really irks me. In another incredibly dick move (remember the rootkits?) Sony have decided to remove one of the features that led me to be one of the first to buy a PS3.

Their “It only does everything” advertising for the PS3s has been misleading for a while now – the latest “slim” generations are no longer fully backward compatible with PS2, and lacked the ability to install another OS (which effectively means a Linux or BSD). That was sad, but it didn’t affect me since I was one of the few, the proud, the early adopters who owned one of the original “phat” PS3s.

Well, cancel out a good portion of my smug self-satisfaction in that regard; Sony have announced that the next firmware upgrade will take away the Linux running feature. A feature that I paid for, that provided part of the draw of the machine for me – they just decided that if I want to keep using my machine, they won’t let me have that feature any more. Not just failing to provide it on new PS3s, they’re removing it from the one I already bought, at the original very high early adopter price.

I could keep the ability by not upgrading, but that would cripple it for its primary purpose as a game system, in order to keep its secondary (but still cherished by me) ability to operate as a computer. The update is required for accessing Playstation Network, and very likely for playing future games – or in Sony’s transparent Orwellian market-speak,”In addition, disabling the ‘Other OS’ feature will help ensure that PS3 owners will continue to have access to the broad range of gaming and entertainment content from SCE and its content partners on a more secure system.”)

I’ll be accepting the upgrade, but I’m very very unhappy about it.

In fact, I believe Sony have just put themselves in the same category as Apple – a company which makes beautiful and versatile computers and computerlike hardware, which will never again get a penny of my disposable income for such hardware because they treat their customers so shabbily.

(I won’t be changing my mind either, short of a complete turnaround by Sony. I haven’t bought gas at  an Exxon station since 1989, because of their failure to take responsibility for the Valdez spill.)

That’s a particular shame in this case, since my brother is a Sony game developer and it gave me an added satisfaction to know I was supporting his work. It won’t have an immediate effect on that, as I’ll still be buying games for my current PS3 – but should it die I will not be replacing it, nor will I be buying a PS4 when they enter the market.

—-

UPDATE: An evil haxx0r called “geohot” is apparently the one who brought the wrath of Sony down upon this subset of its customers: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8594720.stm

As I said to my brother, I figured that it was something like that, and believe me this “geohot” character is no hero to me, but he’s right in this much: “It’s about whether these companies have the right to take away advertised features from a product you purchased.” To be honest I don’t even use the feature myself that often and won’t really miss it that much, but if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a bait-and-switch.

It’s very nice for Sony that customers like me are a small enough minority that it won’t affect their bottom line, but it isn’t my fault the feature turns out to be inconvenient for them. It’s *precisely* shit behavior like this on Apple’s part that decided me against the iPhone.

Sony didn’t even have the grace to offer any kind of compensation to the loyal customers they’re stiffing, or even apologize for it – a high-handed “Oh, we’re taking a part of your toy away, suggest you back up your data” and from there we can just lump it.

I still love my PS3 but say again it’s the last one they’ll sell to me; if it breaks it won’t be replaced, and I won’t be buying a PS4 when they come out (which I otherwise definitely would have). I’m not under any illusion that my personal custom makes any difference to Sony (that’s obviously not the case) but I’ve long since come to believe that the only balance we get in this world is the balance we put there. I can’t rely on the universe for karma, so I do it for myself.

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~ by B.T. Murtagh on March 29, 2010.

One Response to “PS3: It only does everything? Not Linux any more.”

  1. Totally agree!

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