Sony Confirms Xperia Gaming Phone

by Matt Klassen on February 9, 2011

Sony Xperia Play

In late October I wrote about the speculation surrounding Sony’s covert development of a PSP phone, a true hybrid device that would marry high end portable gaming with the latest in mobile smartphone technology. While all I had to go on at that time were some obviously fake leaked photos, in a surprising turn of events during this past Super Bowl, Sony has confirmed the device’s existence during an all-to-brief 30 second spot.

Lamentably, aside from the confirmation of its existence, its name, and its general design, there’s not much more that we’ve learned about the device that may very well usher in the next generation of gaming smartphones.

Officially called the Sony Xperia Play, the popular tech and console gaming company has avoided any mention of its connection with the PSP, seemingly going out of its way to distance the gaming phone from its Playstation brand.

But that being said, with Playstation being a global name in gaming, has Sony made a colossal mistake by divorcing this phone from its Playstation brand?

So what do we know about the Sony Xperia? From the commercial we obviously know it exists, it runs Android, and that in place of a QWERTY keyboard it features PSP-like gaming controls. I would wager a guess that it will perform nominally as a smartphone, but that’s not really why anyone would want it, is it.

Its also clear from the Super Bowl sneak peak that Sony is looking to market this phone much the same way that Apple markets its line of highly successful devices: 1) Tease the audience with brief snapshots. 2) Wow the audience by slightly over-exaggerating its capabilities and finally, 3) Hook the audience with a flashy official unveiling. We’ve already seen number one, I would think that two and three will follow over the next few months.

But here’s where things get strange. Sony’s Playstation brand, including its immensely popular mobile PSP line of devices, has already garnered a worldwide audience, with anyone who’s ever been interesting in gaming fully aware of the high end capabilities of Sony’s gaming line. So why avoid calling this phone the “Playstation Phone,” as many in the media have dubbed it already?

For Sony’s part it certainly looks like its trying to pioneer an entirely new genre of hybrid devices, high end gaming phones. This device isn’t just a PSP gaming platform and it isn’t just a smartphone, but something that lies uniquely in the middle. In order to carve out a dominant niche in a genre that it basically just created, Sony wants the Xperia to stand on its own two feet, or two thumbs, or two control pads as the case may be, allowing the phone to garner universal appeal on its own merits.

With the Xperia sporting the same Playstation Suite software that we find on any of Sony’s portable gaming devices, however, and the fact that Sony’s Playstation brand is globally recognized, why wouldn’t you want to associate this new hybrid gaming smartphone with that successful line of products?

As Steve Palley, mobile games analyst and independent consultant, has argued, “The only people who would want this phone are people who are serious about mobile games. So the rationale that by not calling it a ‘PlayStation phone’ it might have more universal appeal does not make sense. It already loses universal appeal because of the lack of a Qwerty keyboard and the design that is exclusively focused on gamers.”

So as Sony opens up a new niche in the mobile market, has it already made a colossal mistake by divorcing the Xperia hybrid gaming phone from the Playstation brand? What do you think?

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Sony Xperia Play Lacks Gaming Chops —
August 15, 2012 at 5:50 am

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