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Sony developing iPad competitor - report

Combines PSP, netbook, eReader.

Sony, unhappy at Apple's dominance, may be busy developing smart phones that can download PSP games and an iPad competitor that will combine PSP, Sony Reader and netbook functionality.

That's what the reputable Wall Street Journal was told by "sources". And apparently these devices will launch this year.

Important bits like pricing and machine specifics aren't mentioned, but the report claims these new machines to be central to Sony's turnaround plan, which includes hooking everything up to a central online service.

That ties in to what Sony overlord Sir Howard Stringer was waffling on about in February, when he said PlayStation Network was the company's "not-so-secret weapon".

The arrival of PS3 Slim last autumn and a strong line-up of console exclusives has produced a turnaround for Sony's flagship console. However, the PSPgo has so far been a disaster, and Sony Ericsson phones are struggling - shipments were apparently down 41 per cent in 2009.

Can Sony afford to battle against Apple, Microsoft and Nintendo - to fight on three fronts?