PlayStation phone speculation continues to grow

Posted by Mike Luttrell

Rumors of a PlayStation-branded smartphone from Sony Ericsson have appeared to reach a fever pitch, as the company's mobile division head has come forward with a cryptic message to all but confirm the existence of the project.

"There's a lot of smoke, and I tell you there must be a fire somewhere," said Sony Ericsson CEO Bert Nordberg in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Nordberg is referring to all the speculation that has popped up of a new phone that would be focused on the gamer market, placing a heavy emphasis on integration with the PS3 and perhaps even being the official successor to the PlayStation Portable gaming platform.

"Sony has an extremely strong offering in the gaming market, and that's very interesting," added Nordberg.

The new phone would highlight just how strong the mobile gaming community has become. Thanks to the iPhone, the market of video games on mobile phones has gone from something of an extreme niche to the fastest-growing segment of the gaming industry in the US.

Microsoft's newly-launched Windows Phone 7 has a big focus on gaming and its connectivity to the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live online service. Sony would presumably need a similar PlayStation integration into the mobile community to be able to compete in the emerging space.

Of course, details about such a phone remain sketchy. There's even conflicting reports about whether or not it would be called the "PlayStation Phone" or if it would have a more subtle PlayStation connectivity, so as to be able to attract the non-gamers as well.

The comments from Nordberg provide the first solid indication that such a phone, whatever it might be called, is in the works. Previously, he only gave a blanket sort of "anything is possible" response when asked about it.

Sony Ericsson has just recently began turning a profit again, thanks largely to its shift to Android as the primary operating system. It's expected Android will power the PlayStation-centric phone as well.