PlayStation Phone... is an Android app?!

PlayStation Phone... is an Android app?!

Engadget continues to rake in scoop after scoop on the "PlayStation Phone", which I deliberately place in quotes because it looks like what should be the PSPhone, the next technological marvel from the company that once brought us Walkman, is actually... an Android app.

No, that's not a joke. The PSPhone or PlayStation Phone or Zeus or whatever Sony ends up calling what should be their premiere mobile device runs on top of Google's Android platform. Android 3.0 Gingerbread to be precise.

That's awesome for a whole lot of reasons. It's a huge boost for Google and fantastic news for Android enthusiasts who want great gaming on the platform. (At least for those who are willing to use Sony Ericsson's version of it.) It's great for Apple iPhone lovers because strong competition breeds a better market for everyone. Who knows, maybe someday they'll even make a PlayStation app for iOS too. (I don't think they will but that won't stop me from dreaming about God of War and Grand Turismo on my iPad...)

It might even be great for Sony in the sense that it avoids them having to write a telephony stack and Smartphone OS from scratch, something they've never seriously undertaken on their own (they've previously used Android, Windows Mobile, and Symbian). It probably gets them to market faster, especially considering how slow to market they've been. (The iPhone was released in 2007, the App Store in 2008, and the PSPhone won't hit until 2011. That's positively glacier in modern terms).

It's bad for them in that it means their iconic PlayStation line, for the first time, is dependent on someone else's platform. That Android is open source and Sony could always fork it and take it in-house somewhat diminishes the risk. (Unlike RIM who's mortgaged the soul of their new PlayBook tablet to Adobe for the jumpstart of a Flash/AIR UI and development layer.)

But it's really bad for SONY. For the consumer electronics powerhouse. Like I said, for the company that made the walkman and the PS2.

For that Sony, the SONY of the 80s and 90s, it's surrender. It's the equivalent of releasing the PS3 as a Steam-like Windows program. It's almost humiliating, or would be for that all-cap SONY of a decade ago. While not identical, I can't help but think of SEGA who once made the Genesis and DreamCast and is now just one of a multitude of development houses and -- much as I love Sonic -- not even an industry leading one. (And yes, I owned a SEGA CD, what of it?)

Can you imagine if instead of the iPhone Apple made an iPod app for Windows Mobile? If instead of webOS Palm had simply repackaged their emulator for BlackBerry? With Facebook and Mozilla abdicating mobile OS innovation at the concept stage, Sony was one of the few companies I hoped could be the next Apple, the next Palm. Sure they were content on the PC side to resell Windows but mobile is the next big thing and a chance to start over -- just ask HP.

So instead of a PlayStation Phone we get a phone that runs PlayStation. We get an app. And if you're Sony and one of your highest value brands is reduced to an app on someone else's platform you're doing it wrong.

[Engadget via Android Central]

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

PlayStation Phone... is an Android app?!


Well a couple of things Rene...
1.) It's Gingerbread 2.3, not 3.0.
2.) Yes, Sony is a part of this, but it's STILL a joint venture. Meaning it's a whole different crew up in them parks.
3.) What's your point...
I mean, for YEARS everyone has been parading apps, apps, and more apps.
Apps is the future, apps is now, how big your app store, mines is bigger, better, and harder.
Is not Game Center an app? Is not Xbox Live an app?
I mean, are they supposed to create a WHOLE new OS just to deliver a gaming center on a phone? That's ludicrous.
They did exactly what they were supposed to do. It was either WP7 or Android (since those the only OSes you can take...that matter at least, lol).
Seeing as WP7 is clearly Xbox, it falls to Android.
This is the right step. It makes it easy to create and distribute (to future phones of course, because they have said it COULD see other handsets, but I myself highly doubt that).
In the end though...I don't see it going TOO far. Unless they market the hell out of that Playstation brand, it will follow the line of every other US SE release. They take too long on delivering products out of SE...that's their major flaw.

impressive article, rene. i fully agree, and am just as upset by this... as a die-hard playstation fan, it really kills me that Sony is stepping aside, so to speak. they might as well have made an iOS app, and let Steve spearhead the collaboration... far better outcomes would occur.

MS Xbox Live runs on the MS Xbox, only.
Apple's Game Center runs on iOS, only.
Yes, if Sony wants to be a major player they would create a OS just for the Playstation brand on a phone. Are they going to compete with Apple, MS, and Google? Or are they going to compete with Chillingo and Rovio?
Sure they could make it easy on themselves and use Android, but then they would be a slave to whatever Google and probably the carriers decide to do.
Oh how far has the Sony brand fallen...

I heard that Sony is making a PSP2 witch could be an PSP phone without Android or the phone, and the PSP phone could be on of the Google phones it looks pretty stuck to me.
How funny would it be it Sony paid VZW to put playstation network on the WP7 like Microsoft does with Bing on the none Droid android phones.
Also I am hopping that the PSP app is platform dependent like Google own apps so that Sony can upgrade their "app" without Google updating the hole OS and that I can ported to other Android devices and people could hack it to other OSes like iOS threw jailbreak!

Is this a problem, somehow? In what way does the PSPhone being an Android device with PSP functionality a bad thing?
It's not as if all future PSPs will be based on Android. The PSP2 is in development, isn't it?
The thing is, it combines the functionality of a matured and well-known platform like Android with the core ability to play PSP games. Would you have objected if they'd spent years developing their own platform, which would have had far less functionality, far less familiarity, but had better integration with the platform?
It doesn't matter what platform Sony used. If they had developed their own platform, like you think they should have, what would have been different? It would still be an app. It wouldn't be an Android app, but so what?
Explain to me how you have a device with multiple features that doesn't launch the one it's named for from a list that includes the other ones? My DSi has a DS game app, a camera app, a settings app, a web browser app, and an app store, which includes non-DS games too. It doesn't run Android, it's OS is Nintendo-made and lacks functionality that Android would give it, but it's original DS games are run from an app, which you have to launch from a home screen.
It's like if Sony integrated a PS3 with Google TV, and called it PS3-Web, or something like that. It's not a bad move, it's just a move. Putting Android on a PSP gives it something it's competitors don't - a mature, functional and familiar platform that adds well-integrated features - while retaining it's core appeal - a games console. It catches up to, and surpasses, the DSi in general multi-functionality.
It's as if you think nobody could possibly integrate anything into a platform they don't own... Oh, that's right, this is an Apple site.
Android is easily altered, remember. The PSPhone will probably be heavily skinned - we're looking at the test version of the device, which is running an alpha version of the games engine on a stock build of Android, probably not even Gingerbread, and not in any way the final software, which will likely be very different and much more heavily integrated.
Integration =/= owning everything to do with your device.

While I kinda agree with you, remember that in video game sales the companies take a loss on selling the hardware and make up for it in licensing games, so a model like this where they can have the playstation platform available to millions of users and not take that loss and get strait to proffiting from selling games on that platform seems like a good strategy to me.

I agree with some of the comments here. I don't think it's a bad move from Sony. It's not like their current psp is the most successful portable gaming device. I think it's a good thing that they're offering the same psp experience on top of a fully functional and proven operating system. And about creating an iOS app, I dont't think it would be that easy as I assume the psp phone will contain some dedicated hardware not present in the iPhone.
Anyway, where's the disk-tray on this device? Can I still play my original psp games on this thing? I surely hope so.
And what about screen resolution? 480x272 just seems too low for an android phone and upscaling isn't really a great solution. Maybe they will double the resolution, who knows? I surely hope I don't get black bars on the top and bottom of existing games.

Well, well, well. Let me simplify it for you guys to the most logical conclusion of this aftermath debacle. PSP Phone + Android OS = Nokia N-Gage. Plain and simple.
Sent from iOS bitchess!

Or maybe a more likely conclusion: the creation of a hardware/software ecosystem where the real games are played that dont revolve around throwing birds or cutting ropes to feed wee little monsters.
Sent from my iOS.

I don't see what the big fuss is about. This is a nitch product. This phone will only appeal to a select few. I expect this thing to go the way of the PSP and UMD media format.

Doesn't Sony already have a mature OS based on linux that runs fine on consoles and portable devices? Just add a "phone" app to their existing OS. I doubt Android's gaming capabilities can even come close to matching the capabilities of Playstation's OS.

Apple bases their OS on *nix, an open source platform.
Sony, apparently, is going to base one product on Android, an open source platform based on *nix.
I'm failing to see the problem here.

Battery life will be terrible on this thing. Android alone last about 10hrs with moderate usage.

Why they would release on Android is a mystery to me. It's arguably the most non friendly gaming platform on the market. Even Palm would've been a better choice.

What's a mystery to me is why it's a problem that Android's gaming sector isn't as strong. It's quite clearly going to have a PSP-Go style games market built in to the PSP app. I don't know what's making you think that because Android doesn't have many good games that somehow that'll mean all the PSP games will suck from now on.

and i would also like to say that many of the people posting are very wrong, i have android and it runs the exact same games as iOS, literally. NFS Shift is identical, and so is angry birds and the sims 3 and asphalt and so on.

Are the PSphone games going to be on a par with PSP or PS1,I hope so,problem is iphone has some awsome games and a lot of rubbish too.
Are PSPhone games just gonna be mini games or full on COD or Fallout quality.

They're not reduced to using someone else's platform. They're using the Android OS because it's easier. If they were to take the Playstation OS and make it into a Smartphone OS would mean that they would have to start from the ground up to retool the whole thing, the XMB is not a good idea for a smartphone OS. Since it's easier to get their hands on Android, they took that and made the Playstation OS an app for the phone.

I think its really funny all the apple fanbois fillef with so much negative jealousy towards anything android. Get over it geeez!

I like the fact Sony have conceived the PS app,for me its just a pitty its on an Android phone,Im on my 3rd iphone model and was a Nokia, Sony Ericsson man until the iphone appeared,now W7 is a sweet OS and i have been playing around with the HD 7 and really like it,very solid complete looking OS compaired to Android.

Hi, my name is Bill. I'm a middle-aged SWM still living with my mother. My hobbies are playing WoW and trolling Apple boards. I'm looking for a partner with similar interests who wouldn't mind living with me a my mommy.

The playstation phone looks to be awesome. But android not enthused about that android is to early to invest into from a consumer stand point. Give android 2 years to mature And then the phones Will be worth the money.