We all knew it was coming months ago but Sony Eriksson finally announced the Xperia play android smartphone in a superbowl ad. The phone is as we’ve seen before, essentially an Xperia X10 with a slide-out panel with PSP go style buttons. There seems to be a middletouch panel which incorporates controls which are possibly intended to mimic analogue sticks.
The device is the first to make use of Sony‘s new Playstation Suite scheme which allows Sony to distribute both classic and new playstation branded titles on a wide selection of hardware running the Android operating system, as opposed to only on the PSP.
In theory, it’s an interesting idea that should work. In practise, the phones have to be good and have to offer something new and interesting to consumers. One issue Sony might have is that harcore Playstation and PSP fans will want to stick with the current PSP and NGP to come soon, and want to keep their smartphone as an iPhone or other model.
Smartphone owners who are casually into games but not necessarily into Playstation will also be likely to go with whatever device is the best for general features such as the phone and browser.
In other words, if Sony want this phone to be successful and not be a repeat of the NGage, it needs to be a great general smartphone as well as having a unique and strong gaming element. A competitive price on the phone and data plans would obviously help too.
When I first saw the leaked photos and information about the device back in August last year on Engadget, I thought this was an absolutely terrible idea and hoped the photos weren’t real. Now, after hearing about playstation suite, I have more confidence in it. However, I still think it will be a niche product, will confuse casual gamers who won’t be able to understand the difference between this and the NGP, and unfortunately it could be forgotten quite quickly after launch unless Sony really does something special with it.
You just have to hope that they’ve learned their lesson from the PSP go and will go the extra mile to make sure future handheld products such as this one are a success.