The Competition: Sony Working on Playstation/PSP Phone?

psp-phone

Oft rumored, is Sony ready to leverage both the struggling Sony Ericsson partnership and the still fairly solid Sony Playstation brand to produce a Playstation Phone? (PSP Phone? PSPhone? PSP Go-Call-Someone?).

Makes sense from a competitive point of view, and something we certainly thought we'd see sooner. If Sony can get passed their historic intra-company integration problems, and avoid doing anything silly like ATRAC DRM or root kits -- if they could get a product manager who could cut through the quagmire and drive everything that's good about Sony into the product -- it could be an interesting contender.

For the iPhone, of course:

Nikkei says it will directly compete with the iPhone, and that a project team was set up last July to start working on the console/phone hybrid. So basically, it's the same rumor we've been hearing for years, except this time from a reliable source. Whether it's got any truth to it remains to be seen. Note: The above image is a mockup. Seems obvious but sometimes you gotta say it out loud.

[Gizmodo via Reuters]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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The Competition: Sony Working on Playstation/PSP Phone?

29 Comments

It is far easier to bolt a phone chipset onto [insert favorite gadget] than it is to add same gadget to a phone.
Garmin has a phone in development. Dell has a phone in the works, now Sony.
It seems the only people having problems putting out exciting new smartphones are phone companies, like Motorola, Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens et all.
Bring them on. It will ultimately mean better phones at cheaper prices on more carriers.

They really could have been the pioneers here, when the psp first came out I thought to myself "if only it had a phone it would be perfect!"

@Christin
you would've held that fat piece of plastic to your face? I would never want to use that as a phone.
They ar gonna have to do some serious innovating to make this a viable phone AND gaming console...

It doesn't even matter. By the time any of these devices come out they will 1) be compared to whatever the last version of the iPhone was, 2) be severely hampered by numerous and overly complicated feature set and 3) be lost in the fray as the iPhone will have already moved on to newer and more refined features and functionality once again changing the game and upping the ante.

If it brings proper gaming to smartphones, it would be a strong competitor. The iPhone is getting there, but it's still mostly junk games, even the good ones feel like they are well short of portable console games (although at a fraction of the cost, so that's arguably all we are paying for)
If it were an all out crack, ie... Gran Turismo, Metal Gear, etc.... it'd be interesting. Anything less, and the iPhones many many many other strong points simply drown it out.

First, I think this would have been a very good idea if it had happened BEFORE the advent of the iPhone. But what's compelling about the idea now? Are the games on a Sony phone so superior to the iPhone's that it will overcome the Iphone's integration with itunes, the other non-gaming apps, the slick OS X interface, the Apple crafted hardware and web integration?
Second, I never understand how smart companies are always trying to COMPETE with a juggernaut. You don't want to COMPETE with the iPhone (or the iPod for that matter). You want to one-up it. To bypass it and create a superior product. How Microsoft - which has a lot of very smart people - thought the Zune would work is a complete mystery to me. They simply tried to out iPod the iPod. Why ever would they think that would work? And why would you try to out iPhone the iPhone? Create a NEW category superior to the iPhone, not another "me too" device that's going to get crushed by the iPhone steamroller.

@ARTY:
Rene's last sentence:
Note: The above image is a mockup. Seems obvious but sometimes you gotta say it out loud.
Apparently, not loud enough.

Please tell me that's not what it's going to look like. I have no clue what that thing is doing. Or how you would do anything. Looks like an advanced version of BOP IT! But it would be interesting to see the OS and UI in the PSP Go-Call-Someone just to see how Sony wants to take a stab at it.

This is a preposterous mock-up. It could look just like PSP Go but with a phone radio inside and perhaps a touch screen.

I really have no problem with the size. I use headphubes for phone calks most of the rime. Plus I imagine if they had/do venture down this path, they might slim it down.

How about sony worry about competing against the DS. The way I see it they are adding too much competition for themselves. First they get beat by the DS, so they quickly claim the PSP as a phone? Then they get beat by the iPhone...then what? George Forman grill PSP? Sony needs to stop trying to make their devices into swiss army knives, because it doesn't seem to work too well.

Anyone remember the last portable gaming phone? The NGAGE On Verizon, it was clunky and crappy. It lost it's
cool factor the minute you got a call.

@patrick
I believe that is what makes the iPhone such a killer device. It replaces your phone, ipod and PDA without compromising any quality. In the past I carried a phone and iPod around all of the time. Now the iPhone is the only electronic device I carry on a daily basis. In my opinion, if the iPhone also could replace a REAL point and shoot digital camera and was a gaming platform capable of appealing to real gamers then it would truly replace all portable devices that I would have with me on, say, a road trip.

Thanks for that mock-up, it really made me laugh because it represents the expectations of those "hard core gamers" who constantly leave comments complaining that the "iPhone can't be a gaming platform because it hasn't got enough buttons". Well screw you "hard core gamers" - there may be millions of you grumbling but there is ten times the amount of casual gamers who can't be bothered to operate a multitude of knobs and levers to play what is supposed to be a game. Reminds me of the people who said the iPhones gonna fail because initially it didn't have MMS.

The issue I see with a PSP phone is that no self respecting businessman is going to carry around a psp. Then with gaming being a mostly male market, cuts out even more potential buyers, so they're just left mostly with the 12-25 male age group to sell this thong to. It just too much of a niche market

This actually might be a good phone. Has anyone seen the new psp go? It hides all the controls with a slider. It actually looks a lot like an iPhone when closed. So maybe they could just add a couple phone buttons and a mic and speaker. And one addition that would make it extremely nice, a touch screen. It even has a wifi store where you buy all your games (kind of like the AppStore)
I've always been a fan of Sony, they make good products (usually) but I doubt this new phone would make me want to give up my iPhone. Unless they added some killer feature to it.

"...so they’re just left mostly with the 12-25 male age group to sell this thong to...."
I LOLed to that one for a while!
Yeah, that "mock up" looks horrendous! The worst "mock up" I've ever seen! ;)

Hey, I like Sony, too but if it's a duck I'll call it what it is! If they want to sell the PlayStation EYEsore, that's on them! he he he he!

@Matt B
That's the idea I had to. 16GB with a slider control...perfection. Correct everything with the gaming aspect that iPhone lacks (physical gaming buttons>touchscreen)
But I look forward to this...never will buy it, but look forward to it, LOL

I have to say that I like this idea from Sony. Who can say that the PSP go is not a sleek looking device, and who can forget about the 6 billion people that live in China that love Sony as much as America loves Apple (pie). Throw the palm, or android on top of a slider phone with OLED touchscreen and it might be a winner. Not a smartphone killa but definetly a winner. My 2 cents.

Let Sony do what Sony must do in order to preserve their customer base. Who says what they produce is going to compete directy with the iPhone? It might be a device that captures the hardcore gamer as they get to the age and income level where they are ready to purchase their first phone. Like a migration path similar to what an iPod Touch fan would progress through as they but their first iPhone.
I wish Sony well. They have no doubt lost their mojo over the years and could use a hit.

They've already missed the boat with this one, When the released the PSPgo, thats when they shoud've had a phone in there, Touchscreen for the phone functions, slide out gaming controls. It needent have been a revolutionary phone even, calls, texts, a crappy camera in the back, the PSP menu system is pretty good, perhaps an extra hardware button dedicated to going to straight to the phone menu.
Thats how I wouldve done it.