Sony (NYSE: SNE) is reportedly getting ready to reveal a device that is part smartphone-part portable game player. The hybrid would resemble a smartphone, but have a slide-out set of gaming controls (instead of a keyboard). Think of a Nintendo DS with touchscreen and keypad, but it’s a phone, too.
Sony Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) has struggled to make devices for the higher-end tier of the market. While the design would not likely have broad market appeal, the form factor may be attractive to hardcore gamers who have, or are thinking about adopting Apple’s iPhone, which has done so well as a gaming platform. Additionally, Sony’s gaming expertise could help out Android, which has failed to become a real gaming powerhouse yet.
The idea of Sony working closer with Sony Ericsson on a phone-gaming system was floated back in March (and for years a PlayStation phone has been rumored to be under development). Today, Engadget has more details on the project that is very much still in the works. The device will seem to carry both the PlayStation and Xperia branding, but there’s still a lot about the project that’s unknown. According to Engadget’s sources, the company is “actively and heavily developing a brand new gaming platform, ecosystem, and device (possibly alongside Google) which are already in the late stages of planning.”
The big deal about the phone is that it will be running the most advanced version of Android. While Sony Ericsson has yet to introduce a 2.0 product (and most phones are being upgraded to 2.2 as we speak), this new piece of machinery will be running Gingerbread (Android 3.0). Initially, the games would be available only for this device, but eventually, it could extend to other Android phones if the hardware is good enough.