Adressing the Apple and Sony argument, then yes, I agree, that Sony had been taken unawares by Apple and Nintendo, and that as technology moves away from engineering (Walkman, Trinitron) and more towards software and peoples relationships to adapting GUIs and ease of use, Sony have found it hard to adapt.
But this goes for every other single technology manufacturer out there who were also knocked sideways and had always thought 'bigger is better' rather than 'adaptable is better'. We have to look at the times and the whole context of the situation, such as downloading, and Sonys refusal to get in on the online arena until they realsied they had no other option.
Apple have operated from the fringe, and sometimes, when manufacturers or designers with absolutley no prior experience of working to the conventions of a well established piece of industrial design, they actually attack the problem from a totally different angle and innovate heavily, such as the guy who invented the scooter for post war italy who had only designed airplanes yet who wnated to create a new motorbike. The Vespa anyone? By the way, Im sure (though dont quote me on this one) that Apples head of prodcut design is Jonathan Ives, who, before designing ipods and imacs, designed toilet cisterns. I sh*t you not. Go check it out!)
In terms of industrial design, sonys new stuff is becoming more software oriented and the GUI adpative - such as XMB and the lovely, lovely new Photo Gallery feature. This beats iPhoto for me, it is absolutley lovely and Sony are to be congratulated for such a simple yet stunning piece of software. In terms of graphic design, things are starting to come together for a new corporate look. Form can be made minimal when the software allows for a screen to display all the neccessary buttons - ie. the ipod touch.
But look at the PS3, the butons on it such as the power and disc eject are 'touch' and not mecahnical buttons that work when the finger creates a circuit when pressed on them. (Have a look - they are metal and were popluar on some tvs in the 80s) I think that Sony are starting to realise this, albeit slowly, and hopefully in time they will be able to match Apple and secure a good business model also i.e make money from it.
As for the 360 vs Wii vs Ps3 thing, it just comes down to games, the hardcore will always want the "best" games and adopt wichever platform supports these - so, sony better pull their finger out where 3rd part support is concerned. If SOny are to be beleived in that thy want a more tech-savvy market than Wii, then it leads us to think that they are going for more of an online media distribution experiecne, but which also makes me wonder why it is taking them so long to get downloadable music and movies up there in the EU. Sure, they have movies in the US, but why not UK?
And, given that Home has a theatre, why not stream movies form there? say a few quid to go in and watch a fullmovie, not just some shitty trailers. Why not have virtual book and CD stores in Home which can thenk sync with PSP or PSP2 and enable you to carry the lates White Lies album or read the latest Harry Potter? And why cant I shake my PS3 pad to shuffle music in the music XMB or shuffle my photos randomly in Photo Gallery, like the Ericsson Walkman's?
I think that SONYs biggest problem is getting its separate divsions to work towards a similar goal and work in alignment. I dont know how long it took Apple to get iTunes fully up and running, but Sony better get these services for PlayStation soon if they are truthfull if their spouting of different target markets is not just a displacemnt strategy to save face and pride in a very japanese way.
As for claims about the PS3 being hard to program for- I have no idea -I know nothing about hardware engineering. Sometimes I think this can juts be used as an excuse, although, if we consider that the average 7th gen computer game costs millions of pounds to develop, then a developer is not going to want to waste time getting to grips with a hard to program machine when it can better relaise its concepts on a much better and rounded blank canvas.
I really admire my Ps3, for me it is a great multimedia theatre, with some new innovations and infra structures it could become even better.
By the way, as much as I like the DS (own one) and Wii, the games get so boooring after a while. Animal Crossing is the most repettive and capitalist game in humanity beneath the touchy-feely (no pun intended) veener of cuteness. Very over-rated I think.
And Wii is a toy, it might make lots of sales for capitalist games comapnys, but 80% of people who own it or have heard of it call it "Wees" or "wizz" and havent a clue about Nintendo.They see it, most probably as a stand alone luxury and will probably have no long term loyalty to its continuation as others have said here.
I would be very saddened to see Sony retire from console manufacture, but dont think that this is the case at all,I think that a lot of this stuff is absurd fanboyism and misinformation possibly generated virally from other manufacturerers, or am I being too conspiratorial?