It’s the weekend, meaning we’ve rounded up this week’s best and worst news in tech in this edition of Winners and Losers.
However, our winner this week is Matter, while our loser title had to go to Sony. Read on to discover why we awarded each winner and loser.
This week’s winner is Matter, after the long-awaited smart home standard finally launched this Thursday.
Matter is an industry protocol designed to make it easier for your smart home devices to communicate, whether they’re built by Apple, Google, Amazon or any of its other supporting manufacturers.
In fact, there are more than 170 companies involved in Matter, including a number of massive names like Huawei, Samsung SmartThings, Comcast, Signify and even Ikea.
The protocol addresses one of the biggest issues with smart home devices right now – many of them don’t play nice together. As Home Technology Editor David Ludlow wrote in our guide to Matter earlier this year, it can take a combination of three or four smart home systems to get a Ring alarm, Arlo camera and Yale smart lock to cooperate, meaning the whole process can become needlessly complicated fast.
Matter essentially allows your smart devices to communicate regardless of brand or platform, so you can buy the smart tech you want and not just the ones that mesh well with your chosen voice assistant, whether that be Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.
Matter has launched with 190 devices already on board and that number is expected to grow as older devices see firmware updates to support the new standard. The Philips Hue Bridge, for example, will be getting an update in early 2023.
This launch signifies a huge step forward for the IoT that is sure to make it easier for people to build and expand their ideal smart home systems on their own terms.
Our loser this week is Sony after the company revealed that its PlayStation Plus platform had seen a massive decline in subscribers.
Sony made the decision to merge PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now into one tiered subscription service earlier this year.
The base tier, PlayStation Plus Essential, offers access to online multiplayer, cloud storage and two monthly downloadable games for £6.99/$9.99/€8.99 a month, while PlayStation Plus Extra includes all of those features along with additional perks, including access to a library of up to 400 PS4 and PS5 games, for £10.99/$14.99/€13.99 a month.
At the top of the line is PlayStation Plus Premium, which includes all of the above along with 340 more games from the PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP, as well as time-limited game trials. The Premium tier costs £13.49/$17.99/€16.99 a month.
The revamped service launched in June, meaning Sony’s had nearly four months to watch the PS Plus subscriber count climb – or drop, as it may be.
This week, Sony revealed that the number of PlayStation Plus subscribers had plummeted from 47.3 million to 45.4 million from June to September.
According to Sony’s CFO speaking in a recent earnings call, the decline has been caused by a combination of slowing third-party game and PS4 sales and more people spending time outdoors over the summer. There’s also an argument to be made that the cost of living crisis could have users reevaluating which subscription services are worth keeping and which they should set aside in the coming months.
Regardless of the cause of the drop, it’s certainly not a good look so soon after the platform’s re-launch.
Apparently, these numbers can be expected to rise again in the next quarter – presumably, as gamers spend more time holed up in their homes to escape the colder weather – though we’ll have to wait for the quarter to be over to see if that estimation rings true, or if Sony has made a major error in restructuring its PlayStation platforms.