updated 02:55 pm EST, Sun November 21, 2010
Sony Ericsson CEO hints PlayStation phone in Feb
Sony Ericsson CEO Bert Nordberg in an interview today dropped direct clues that the PlayStation phone could be unveiled at Mobile World Congress in February. Acknowledging the leaks, he wouldn't directly confirm the Android gaming phone's existence but said that there was "a lot of smoke" and thus that there "must be a fire somewhere." He noted to the WSJ that a phone of the sort would be technically easy for anyone but that he was "very glad" Sony could land rights deals with game publishers.
Timing wasn't mentioned, but Nordberg said he wanted to create "noise" at Mobile World Congress. The Barcelona event is often used for major international phone launches. The PlayStation phone is the most probable candidate, but the company may also unveil the Xperia X12 as its next high end but more broadly targeted smartphone.
The newspaper corroborated widely known details of the phone from a leak earlier in the year, although it added that the phone would be given an Xperia badge. It's known to have a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, PSP Go-style physical controls and a touchpad on the back. By the time it ships, the phone may carry Android 3.0 and have either a special section of Android Market or a separate store altogether dedicated to commercial-quality games designed for the hardware.
Nordberg alluded to the physical controls in echoing the company's mounting criticisms of the iPhone. Apple's device and others that were touch-only weren't "optimized for games," he said.
While developers like id Software's Carmack have noted the control limits, the commentary was in part a reaction to Apple's success in undermining Sony's share of the gaming market. While recent NPD data isn't available after the research group stopped making its figures public, PSP sales were falling quickly in the US to where 59,400 units shipped in July versus 104,000 roughly a year earlier. Old hardware, expensive games and relatively little optimization for the Internet have left the PSP suffering where Apple has been upgrading its iPhones and iPods every year while simultaneously encouraging games at $10 or less.
Without a PlayStation phone, Sony's next best hope should be the PSP2, which should take some cues from the iPod touch with a camera and more contemporary performance that could rival full-size consoles like the PS3 for performance.