The PlayStation Portable in all honesty was a travesty of bad marketing and lost opportunity. With the NGP Sony has a chance not to make the same mistakes again. The PSP was released in 2005 and by 2007 Sony had already seemed to have cut their losses. They stopped heavily developing first party titles for it and began experimenting. So what went wrong?
The price of a system is always key and launching the system at a higher price than the Nintendo DS may not have been the best starting position. What the PSP did have going for it was a system that was more powerful than the DS; if Sony could pump out the titles and get support it would have been a success.
So what is to blame? The system initially being easily hacked and jail broken into so close after release was not a positive sign. To this day games like Final Fantasy: Dissidia are being pirated at rates of upwards of 80%. When your top tier exclusives are being pirated by so many and you don't have the younger audience of the Nintendo DS, how do you survive? That is not to say the Nintendo DS was not modded to embarrassing amounts by it's teenage to adulthood base. It was the attraction of the under 13 age group to the DS that gave Nintendo the edge over the more adult focused Sony.
The NGP needs to be hack proof for the system to work, and that is doable with a system fully dependent on digital content. Where it runs into problems is the new form of card based game carts. Will the NGP run into the flashcart problem the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance did of the past. The PSP was known shortly after release for being easily hackable and a pirates dream, not exactly the way to sell software.
As the digital marketplace became a bigger focus in gaming, Sony tried abandoning the failed UMD format and attempted to go completely digital with a new version of the PSP. The Go was an attempt to see if people would be accepting of an all digital marketplace of software. From Sony's standpoint eliminating GameStop in the used game department would give them higher profits. It would also take a large accepting user base of this sudden change and required a new highly priced system. This didn't happen, it wasn't helped with a delay between store releases and releases that appeared digitally. Combine this with a large portion of the library absent on the PSN Network and it's hard to get on board.
With the NGP Sony plans to be committed to releasing titles on the physical and digital marketplaces at the same time. This lets users choose how they want to purchase their games instead of being forced. The odd thing about the NGP releases is the plan to incorporate the same release for PS3 and PSP on the same day. This requires the user base they are targeting to also have a PlayStation 3 system to connect the two games. This is supposed to work as a bonus to some bigger titles like an Uncharted or Ratchet & Clank. This is a neat concept but this could also mean the NGP would serve as the shipping yard for low-res PS3 titles on the go instead of original content.
The NGP's inclusion of a touch screen was expected just like the dual analogs it features. The real surprise is the touch screen was on the back. This instantly gives it enough of a difference to the Nintendo DS brand. Though we have to wonder exactly how responsive the touch screen is, will it be as interactive as the Nintendo DS or 3DS? In that case could we see the NGP steal some of those touch exclusives away or will the system's touch pad become nothing more than precise camera control. In comparison to the Nintendo DS' touch screen is heavily used as a map interface in many titles.
Sony has to control the outbreak of piracy, secure titles, keep promises and not give up on their own system. The 3DS is out and is a gimmick yet impressive. The longer the NGP is in development the longer Nintendo can gain a lead, the advantage Sony has is counting on PlayStation 3 users to buy in to their system which will be assimilated as an extended part of that experience. The pieces are there for the NGP to be the killer app of portables.