Engadget is reporting that Sony Ericsson is on the cusp of releasing a brand new Android-powered smartphone with PlayStation branding.
According to the report, the device is based on Android 3.0 (codenamed Gingerbread) and features a large 3.7" to 4.1" screen with at least WVGA resolution, meaning 800-854 pixels wide by 480 high. It's a slide phone with PSP controls emerging from beneath the screen. Here you'll find the traditional PlayStation buttons along with a digital d-pad along plus a curious multi-touch analogue bar, a kind of scaled-down laptop trackpad. Shoulder buttons are also included in the design.
Allegedly powering the device is a 1GHz Snapdragon SoC (system on chip), allowing for graphics designed to be of the same ballpark quality as the original PlayStation or the PSP and the original report says that titles including God of War, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Little Big Planet might be coming to the platform.
Engadget says that "it's currently branded as a Xperia device, but it looks like it will carry PlayStation branding as well," and that Sony Ericsson is looking to build up an entire gaming platform and surrounding "ecosystem" around the phone. Additionally, Google might "possibly" be involved.
It's an interesting story, but whether or not the PlayStation branding will be utilised is the key question here: there's a strong argument that deploying this brand simply doesn't make sense for a product along these lines. Sony has been working on the PSP2 for some years now and the creation of a brand new handheld gaming machine based on off-the-shelf parts and completely divorced from the far more advanced PSP2 specs seems difficult to reconcile: Sony really needs complete convergence between a phone and its new handheld in order to make an impact.
More than that, the notion of Sony investing so much in a gaming platform that can only match the visuals of the handheld platform it already has simply doesn't compute. Similarly incongruous is the talk of a new gaming "ecosystem" with Google involvement, bearing in mind that Sony already has an established, successful platform in the form of the PlayStation Network.
On the flipside of the argument, Sony clearly has a major investment in the cellphone sector and Apple is extremely successful in offering a games platform that encompasses both handheld and mobile telephone devices. A similar convergence with Sony products is surely inevitable in the fullness of time, but the question remains on whether this purported Xperia/PSP Phone is the best possible vehicle to achieve it.
In terms of official comment on this story, as you might imagine, SCEE this morning refused "to comment on rumour and spectulation."