(Or, Sony’s lawyers Ate My Homework)
We took apart the PSP Go last week. We got early access to a review unit for a couple hours, so we performed our standard teardown procedure: Figure out how to take it apart, shoot a ton of photos documenting the process, and take super-high resolution shots of the circuitry. Once we were done with all the photos, our engineers wrote an analysis of the manufacturing process and circuitry design choices Sony made.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with how the gadget release process works, let me give you a bit of a run-through. Some companies, like Apple, are super-secretive with their new gizmos and almost never provide the press with early access to hardware. Most others (Sony included) always send review units out to reporters and bloggers hoping to get a favorable review written ahead of time. In exchange for the review unit, writers agree not to release their story until a predetermined time, at which point the the ‘embargo’ is lifted. With the PSP Go, Sony set the embargo for Monday the 28th at 9:00AM Eastern.
We released our teardown on Monday. Our hardware analysis left us less-than-impressed with the PSP Go’s value proposition, and we called Sony out for charging more for a device that didn’t add any substantial features and was substantially less serviceable than the previous model. Sony didn’t take very kindly to this, and threatened the news organization that provided us with the device, demanding that we remove the teardown. (Reporters have to agree to a number of terms to get new devices, and it turns out that Sony had included a ‘No disassemble Johnny Five’ clause in their contract.) Although iFixit was under no legal obligation, we temporarily removed our teardown to protect our partner.
The PSP Go is now available through retail channels, and we bought one and redid our teardown with the retail hardware—just to make sure Sony can’t make any more legal claims. I just reposted the teardown.
Why is Sony so close-lipped? We didn’t unveil anything we wouldn’t normally have— we just published it a few days earlier than usual. So what was different this time? Nothing, actually. But, dear reader, I’m going to let you in on a little industry secret: Mass-scale consumer electronics manufacturers hate our teardowns. They hate the idea that you might actually use your device for more than what they tell you to. And they certainly hate the idea of users replacing the batteries in their new devices. (Did you see the ‘Warranty Void if Removed’ sticker on the super easy to replace PSP Go battery? Why would they do that?)
Don’t get me wrong— this isn’t universal to all manufacturers. In fact, some manufacturers have actively worked with us because they want the world to know how awesome their engineers are. Ugobe provided us with a Pleo robotic dinosaur when we were working on the teardown, and promoted our teardown on their homepage. I’ll have an announcement next week from another manufacturer who is so proud of their device they want the world to find out what’s inside.
As a general rule, consumer electronics companies are not interested in consumers doing anything with their devices but consuming them. And that’s a problem. We are living in a throw-away society. Sony, far from being the exception, exemplifies everything that is wrong with the industry. Apple does not want you to replace the battery in your iPod—they’d much rather sell you this year’s model in a shinier package. With a brand-new, soldered-down battery included for your convenience.
iFixit’s mission is to put a stop to this destructive, linear consumption model. We want to help people keep their devices working better, longer. Starting with the PSP Go.
So in addition to rereleasing our teardown of the PSP Go, we took advantage of the last couple days of Sony-induced silence to write some repair manuals for Sony’s new gadget. Repair manuals that Sony would never let you see in a million years, and would stop us from publishing if they had the legal right to do so. Repair manuals that will enable anyone who buys the PSP Go to replace their own battery when it wears out. Or fix their own display. Or repair the headphone jack. Or fix just about anything else that might break on this little game machine.
You have the right to repair your own things. And I promise you that we will do our darndest to make it easy. Regardless of what Sony has to say on the matter.
I’ll have some exciting announcements next week about how we’re working to enable people to fix things. In the meantime, here’s how you take apart Sony’s newest PSP.