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Sony’s Next Portable: What We Know So Far

July 7, 2010 Written by Anthony Severino

Despite Sony recently throwing massive support behind the PSP, which includes 70 new titles by the end of the year, along with a new marketing campaign which tells you to “Step Your Game Up”, they may be developing a new portable device. PlayStation LifeStyle takes an in-depth look at what Sony’s new portable could be…

Today, a report from Wall Street Journal was released, claiming that “Sony is developing a portable device that shares characteristics of handheld game machines, e-book readers and netbook computers, according to people familiar with the matter”. These claims have sparked interest all over the internet from people eager to see what Sony has in store for consumers. However, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard these rumblings and we’re sure this wont be the last.

Let’s go over what we’ve found so far…

It all started with a report from Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, which is the second most circulated national newspaper in Japan. The report claimed that Sony was working on a device that combined aspects from many of the different branches of the Sony empire. The device, which is meant to go up against the iPad, was said to feature attributes from:

  • Sony’s PlayStation brand, meaning it’s part gaming machine
  • “Ekusuperia” which translates to Sony Ericsson’s HTC manufactured Xperia, a high end smart phone
  • Walkman, Sony’s age-old line of music playing devices, that have long been in need of a reboot

To round out this amazing array of attributes, the report claims the new device would be based on Google’s budding mobile OS called Android. Android, for those of you unfamiliar with the OS, is featured on many of today’s smart phones and features a robust, open-source OS that rivals that of the Apple’s iOS and Research in Motion’s Blackberry OS.

This wouldn’t be Sony’s first foray with Android, as Sony has recently announced the first TV line-up to incorporate the Google TV platform. Google TV is based on the Android platform and runs Google Chrome web-browser. Sony’s Chairman, CEO and President, Sir Howard Stringer had this to say about the platform:

“I am delighted to announce the unique alignment of Google’s rapidly growing, open source Android platform with Sony’s unparalleled expertise in the field of TV design and technology.”

Sony also has their latest models of the aforementioned Xperia smart phones running on Android, so Sony certainly has faith in Android as a platform, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Android make it’s way to additional devices.

Although Android has been predominantly featured on smart phones, Android-based tablets will soon be hitting the market in droves to try and steal some of iPad’s thunder in what many are calling the “Tablet Wars”. One of iPad’s many selling points – especially to the casual consumer – is the fact that it doubles as an e-book reader, something that Sony knows a bit about, considering they released one of the first commercially successful e-book readers back in 2006. Since then Sony has encountered plenty of stiff competition from  the likes of Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, iPad, among many others.

You may be asking “what does a e-book reader have to do with PlayStation”. Fast forward a bit to early June, right before E3. It was discovered that Sony had filed for the trademark “PlayView” on June 3rd. The name alone resembles the PlayStation brand. However, the name is not what is so significant here, it’s what the trademark covers. The trademark covers:

  • Video game machines with television for personal use
  • Computer software for transmitting, sharing, receiving, downloading, displaying and transferring content, text, visual works, audio works, audiovisual works, literary works, data, files, documents and electronic works via video game machines and Hand-held games with liquid crystal displays
  • Computer game software recorded on optical discs
  • Portable electronic device for receiving and reading text and images and sound through wireless Internet access and for displaying electronically published materials, namely, books, journals, newspapers, magazines, multimedia presentations
  • Information providing devices, namely, computer terminals with encrypting software for transmission of messages via the internet web site and e-mail communication’ and ‘telephone apparatus
  • Retail store services in the field of electronic games, videos, electronic publications and music

All that sure sounds like it could be covered by the device Asahi Shimbun was reporting on and that last bit, sounds a lot like the PlayStation Store combined with some type of music store and e-book store.

All this evidence points to a new device being developed by Sony, which would seem to be the all-in-one device the PSP was originally meant to be. Imagine switching seamlessly from gaming, to web browsing, to reading books, to text messaging, to listening to music, back to gaming, all on Google’s smooth running, open-source Android OS. That’s actually something that can be had on many of the Android based smart phones already, but wouldn’t it be even better if it was on PlayStation hardware?

Although the title of this article is “what we know so far”, until Sony actually announces the existence of such a device, we don’t actually know anything, and this is purely speculation based on evidence from extremely reliable sources. For now, we can only dream about the possibilities and how a device like that would consume our lives.

What do you think, will we see a device like this hit the market under PlayStation branding? Would you have room in your life for an all-in-one device such as this? Let us know in the comments below…