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Winners and Losers: PS Vita fans vindicated while Apple kills the podcast dream

It has been a huge week in the world of tech and there’s a good chance that you might’ve missed some of its biggest stories, which is exactly where Trusted Reviews’ Winners and Losers comes in.

If you’ve only had time to a give a cursory glance towards the news this week, then you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was all about Apple. From the new iPad Pro 2021 to the eagerly anticipated M1 iMacs, Apple absolutely dominated the conversation with its Spring Loaded event, but I want to draw attention to the implications of one of its announcements: podcast subscriptions.

Elsewhere, the power of online fandoms seems to have been vindicated once again after the PS Vita community scored a massive win in the face of Sony’s plans to shut down the PS Vita store for good.

Sony PS Vita

Winner: PS Vita fans

A few weeks ago, we placed this exact same group of gamers in the loser column, as Sony – rather abruptly – announced that it would shut down the online stores for the PS3, PSP and PS Vita later this year. With the PS3 and PSP having come out in the mid-2000s, it wasn’t that much of a shock to see these now dust-covered consoles being read their last rites, but the PS Vita only came out in 2012, around the same time as the Nintendo 3DS no less.

After a rallying cry online from Vita’s die hard fans, Sony ended up doing a double take from realising that its older consoles are a lot more popular than the company previously thought. As a result, Sony has decided to forgo its plans to take the PS3 and PS Vita stores offline, with CEO Jim Ryan publishing the following statement in a company blog post:

“Recently, we notified players that PlayStation Store for PS3 and PS Vita devices was planned to end this summer. Upon further reflection, however, it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here. So today I’m happy to say that we will be keeping the PlayStation Store operational for PS3 and PS Vita devices. PSP commerce functionality will retire on July 2, 2021 as planned.”

Just as with Sonic the Hedgehog and the European Super League, this is another example to show that if enough people band together, then great things can be achieved, and while it might seem sad to bid the PSP’s online store adieu, remember that you can still bag most PSP games via the PS Vita.

Apple Podcasts Subscriptions

Loser: Apple Podcasts

At one point, the concept of listening to a bunch of people talk for hours on end seemed like a great way to waste time, but now podcasts are an absolute cultural phenomenon, and everyone’s gran seems to have one. Part of what’s helped the podcast revolution of course is the fact that, for the most part, podcasts are free and easy to access which, at a time when the likes of streaming services are pilfering any and all content they can get their hands on, has never been more refreshing.

The podcasts section of iTunes, and later the podcasts app, were instrumental in the growing popularity of the medium, and both stood out for being one of the few facets of the Apple ecosystem that was free to access. Sadly, it seems as though Apple has decided to end this golden era by introducing Apple Podcasts Subscriptions.

As the name implies, the new service will allow content creators to wall off podcasts as and when they please, requiring that users cough up for the privilege of tuning in. It’s not entirely certain exactly what the costs will be, or if there is a monthly fee that nets you access to all premium podcasts, but we’ll know more once the update drops in May.

What feels more certain to me is that this is a massive step towards creating yet another money guzzling service, on top of the dozen or so that most people already find themselves paying for at present. Podcasts were built upon on the idea of free and open conversation, and so the very notion of hiding them behind a paywall seems to just fly in the face of that original concept. Shame on you Apple.

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