It’s the weekend, which means we’ve rounded up the best and worst tech news of the week in this edition of Winners and Losers.
However, our winner this week is Matter, while our title loser was to go to Sony. Read on to find out why we rewarded every 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 made by Apple, Google, Amazon, or one of its other manufacturers.
In fact, over 170 companies are involved in Matter, including a number of big names like Huawei, Samsung SmartThings, Comcast, Signify, and even Ikea.
The protocol solves one of the biggest problems with smart home devices right now – many of them don’t work well together. As Home Technology editor David Ludlow wrote in our material guide earlier this year, it might take a combination of three or four smart home systems to make a Ring alarm, Arlo camera and Yale smart lock work together, meaning the whole process can get unnecessarily complicated quickly.
Matter essentially enables your smart devices to communicate regardless of brand or platform, so you can buy the smart technology you want and not just the ones that integrate well with your voice assistant of choice, whether it’s Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.
Matter 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 receive an update in early 2023.
This launch represents a huge leap 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 has seen a huge drop in number of 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 per month, while PlayStation Plus Extra includes all of these features plus additional perks, including access to a library of up to 400 PS4 and PS5 games, for £10.99/$14.99/€13.99 per month.
At the top of the range is PlayStation Plus Premium, which includes all of the above plus 340 other games from the PS1, PS2, PS3 and PSP, plus limited time game trials. The Premium tier costs £13.49/$17.99/€16.99 per month.
The revamped service launched in June, meaning Sony has had almost four months to see PS Plus subscriber numbers rise – or fall, as the case may be.
This week, Sony revealed that the number of PlayStation Plus subscribers fell from 47.3 million to 45.4 million from June to September.
According to Sony’s chief financial officer speaking on a recent earnings call, the decline was caused by a combination of slowing sales of third-party games and PS4s and an increase in the number of people spending time on outdoors in the summer. There’s also an argument to be made that the cost-of-living crisis could cause users to re-evaluate which subscription services are worth sticking with and which they should put aside in the coming months.
Whatever the cause of the drop, it’s certainly not a good look so soon after the platform’s relaunch.
Apparently, we can expect these numbers to increase again in the next quarter – presumably, as players spend more time cooped up at home to escape the colder weather – although we will have to wait until the end of the quarter to see if that estimate rings true, or if Sony made a major mistake in restructuring its PlayStation platforms.