Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sony Ericsson Speaks on Possibility of PlayStation Phone

Sony Ericsson says PlayStation Phone will come before Christmas of unknown year

Given the feature-filled mobile phones Sony produces as part of its partnership with Ericsson, it wouldn’t surprise many if the Japanese electronics giant eventually released a hybrid product that incorporates both communications and gaming functions into one unit.

The release of the Apple iPhone has further fueled speculation that Sony may be preparing a competing product that will be a mix of a Sony Ericsson phone and a PSP handheld console.

In a Pocket Gamer interview with Sony Ericsson’s gaming guru Peter Ahnegard at the Leipzig Games Convention, hints were dropped regarding the possibility of a PlayStation-branded mobile phone.

“Gaming is probably the most mature content area we have today in mobile phone and Sony Ericsson has always reflected that, having games embedded on our handsets for many years,” said Ahnegard, who also conceded that Sony Ericsson hasn’t yet put the same focus on gaming as the company had on music and imaging features as it has on its Walkman and Cyber-shot phones.

Despite not having specifically targeted a gaming brand as of yet, the power of the latest phones are beginning to catch up to previous generation consoles. “The power of the phones we're creating now is phenomenal,” added Ahnegard. “Smartphones like the W960, P1 and associated families have hardware acceleration and OpenGL ES and are capable of providing gaming experiences on a level similar to PSP, certainly somewhere between PS1 and PS2.”

One potential challenge is that Sony Ericsson is facing is the ergonomics of melding together phone and game. Ahnegard explained, “It's a tricky balance. The latest craze for slim handsets doesn't really go hand-in-hand with gaming comfort. Console controllers are bulky for a good reason and have been designed with specific elements in mind, e.g. the need to be hardwearing, ergonomically comfortable, etc. The same considerations go into our phones and there are lots of elements that affect gaming performance, from the spacing between buttons to joypad position. We have to accept that some devices simply won't be appropriate to drive some games and, in many cases, gaming or other entertainment content isn't the prime concern behind the design.”

With Sony’s other cross-branding of its other product lines into its mobile phones, it’s almost expected that a PlayStation phone will appear sometime in the future. “Up until today we haven't felt we could launch a PlayStation phone because it wouldn't be recognized as a true continuation of that brand of products,” said Ahnegard, who then coyly added, “It's obviously something that we're looking at but right now I can't really comment. Before Christmas, certainly... but exactly which Christmas I can't confirm!”

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