Will Sony revisit the idea of a PlayStation phone tonight?

After HTC rocked our socks off yesterday with the announcement of the HTC One, Sony is looking to take the rest of this week by storm with some announcements regarding its PlayStation brand. We’re expecting some pretty big news tonight — after all, you don’t rent out the Hammerstein Ballroom and drum up this much noise for a dud. We’ll potentially be treated to an announcement regarding the next generation PlayStation console, but those of us who are interested in mobile have reason to be curious about this announcement, as well.

If you don’t remember, Sony tried to do a little cross-pollination between its gaming and phone sectors. The idea of a PlayStation phone was something that was rumored for a long time, and Sony eventually embraced the idea and ran with it. The Japanese company called it the Sony Xperia Play, but it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting.

Sure, Sony made it, it had a built-in gamepad, and it was “PlayStation Certified,” but aside from some PSOne classics and other mini titles it never fully sprouted into the must-have gaming device. Sony tried to continue the PlayStation Certified program with its line of Android tablets, but those devices didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

With Sony’s PlayStation event scheduled for later tonight, we have our eyes peeled and our curiosity piqued — will Sony look to bring us the “true” PlayStation phone we’ve all been waiting for?

Vita is Sony’s priority for mobile gaming

When the rumors of a PlayStation phone were still in infancy, folks believed it could be a worthy successor to the original PSP. The Vita hadn’t existed in our minds yet, and we figured there was a perfect opportunity to create the single most entertaining communication device one could ever wish to have. The Vita was announced, though, and the only thing it had to do with cellular were the AT&T radios sitting inside for mobile data.

Sony has gone full steam ahead with the PlayStation Vita, but the handheld hasn’t taken off like the company has hoped. Sales are down, and that’s largely due to the fact that Sony is finding a tough time getting support from third-party developers. Games are trickling in at a snail’s pace, and the odd titles we do get here and there aren’t always must-have blockbuster releases. Yours truly has sold his PlayStation Vita, and there is not much on the horizon making me want it back.

With that, it’s tough to imagine Sony would jump-start a new product category like that without a degree of hesitation. It has to find solid footing in the handheld space up against Nintendo, of course, but it’s highly unlikely the electronics giant would look to do that with a full-blown PlayStation phone. Other areas of opportunity exist, though, so let’s explore them a bit.

Gaikai could enable the perfect opportunity

Sony might still have a few tricks up its sleeve that could give it the edge it needs going further. If you haven’t heard, Sony acquired streaming game service Gaikai. Not unlike OnLive, Gaikai allows users to play games on any device as long as they have a decent broadband connection to stream them to. This means you can play console-quality games even if you don’t have great or compatible hardware. It actually works pretty well, and it’s a technological innovation that could help Sony a few different ways.

The most obvious scenario for Sony would be the ability to serve up PSOne Classics, old PS2 games, and PS3 games for those who buy the PlayStation 4. Backwards compatibility is a tricky subject in the console space, but Gaikai would give Sony the opportunity to solve that problem with relative ease since it wouldn’t have to rely on specific hardware to emulate games like it did with the Emotion chip for PS2 backwards compatibility inside the original 60GB PS3.

More than supporting older PlayStation titles on the PS4, though, Sony could finally look to deliver these games in the mobile space. A big reason the Sony Xperia Play never got as many games as we’d hoped is because much of it had to be ported to ARM architecture, and the hardware at that time — a 1GHz Snapdragon S2 processor with an Adreno 205 GPU and just 512MB of RAM — wasn’t great. This limited titles to less-demanding PSOne games and bite-sized mobile titles that you could probably find in the Play Store today.

With Gaikai, Sony’s entire range of Xperia phones and tablets could theoretically play almost any title since the fifth generation. This could kill two birds with one stone, because every phone and tablet could be a PlayStation device, and the PlayStation 4 could be backwards compatible with any generation. I don’t fully expect that to happen, but if Sony wants to bolster the Xperia line with something truly unique that no other OEM can offer it wouldn’t get any better than that.

At the very least, compete with Smart Glass and Wii U

If all else fails, we imagine Sony will at least want to match its console competitors in some areas. With the launch of the Wii U, Nintendo introduced an innovative tablet controller that allows gamers to interact in a new way. For instance, ZombiU — a game Rob has enjoyed quite extensively (read his review at Wii U Daily) — gives you a new perspective, allows you to use the controller as a manipulative tool, and can be used as a map in certain game modes.

Microsoft has plans to do something similar with SmartGlass, with its vision being the ability to enable that same sort of interactive connectivity in Xbox games. Nothing has taken off quite yet, but Microsoft originally teased scenarios like being able to call plays on your smartphone or tablet in Madden NFL as if you had an actual playbook in your hands.

Sony has shown signs of wanting to leverage similar technology with cross-platform integration between the Vita and the PlayStation 3 (and, eventually, the PlayStation 4), but why limit that to the Vita? Bring it to your Xperia smartphones and tablets, as well. Hell, bring it to all smartphones and tablets like Microsoft will eventually do.

Gone are the days where promising a superior music phone under the Walkman brand was enough to get a phone to sell like hotcakes — it’s the combination of gaming, music, and all forms of entertainment that will turn heads. It would give people more than enough reason to jump back into Sony’s mobile brand with excitement (though, to be honest, the beautiful Xperia Z is doing quite the decent job on its own merit).

What are you hoping for?

The PlayStation event kicks off in just under 4 hours — at about 6pm eastern — so it won’t be a long wait before we figure out where Sony plans to go from here. Sony has a lot riding on this announcement. Its recent financial struggles have the company on the brink of desperation mode, and we can’t imagine Sony can afford too many more blunders before President and CEO Kaz Hirai begins to sweat.

Be sure to stay tuned to GameFans.com and PS4Daily.com for coverage of all of today’s announcements, and you can bet Phandroid will be keeping an eye on things to see if Sony has anything to bless the mobile world with. Let us know what you hope Sony is getting ready to announce — aside from the obvious guess of a PlayStation 4 unveiling — in the comments below!

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  • http://twitter.com/iLoveLiveUnique Nathan Bryant

    they better not. i rather have an early revealing on the ps4

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.gilboy Richard Gilboy

    They should just make it into a new PMP. Making it into a cellphone will only drive up price and delay future software updates.

  • The B Man

    uhhh I’m hoping for the playstation 4 not this other BS. What a weird article.

    • phinn

      lol agreed

    • http://www.phandroid.com Quentyn Kennemer

      Well we’re all hoping for the PS4, of course. I was just speculating on what we could see alongside a PS4 announcement.

      • The B Man

        Interconnectedness is something that will probably be a focus but it will all revolve around the PS4 in some way. Nothing else will probably be announced product wise because it will get zero coverage.

    • BulletTooth_Tony

      boy are you disappointed now if all you wanted to see was the ps4… that’s the only thing they didn’t show.

  • phinn

    MY guess is PS4, nothing else.

    • BulletTooth_Tony

      and you were wrong… since everything but the PS4 was shown… the new controller, games, their smartglass app me-too app, their me-too Kinect bar without the auto-swivel, new GUI, online sharing…

  • JulianZHuang

    no.

  • http://twitter.com/mjwhirly Matthew Woehrle

    A playstation phone would most likely fail as it would just be a fad phone, eventually people would get tired of using it due to battery drain.

    Also when you said “After HTC rocked our socks off yesterday with the announcement of the HTC One” ……i guess you were talking about your own socks because most people should realize that it’s going to flop, HTC has been notorious over the past two years of releasing some crappy devices, with a memory hogging android skin and best of all a locked bootloader. I’m not going to say other choices are perfect but there definitely light years ahead of HTC, who probably won’t be able to survive another fiscally shitty year

    • No_Nickname90

      Actually, I’m starting to like skins. I’m running a TouchWiz Jellybean ROM on my Epic 4G Touch. It doesn’t have any too much extra features. Like the only thing extra is the AOSP Lockscreen. LoL!!

      If HTC can get their updates out on time, I wouldn’t mind running stock root. I would get this phone because I like Jellybean. But if HTC didn’t update this phone within 3 months of the next firmware, then I’d sell it and get the S4 since I’m sure the bootloader will be locked.

      And you can’t really call this memory hogging since they did a good job at trimming it down. And please don’t bring up “If I don’t want the skin there and can’t delete it. It’s just hogging memory”. It’s not that hard to buy a Nexus device instead. LoL!!

  • Andrew torres

    A playstation phone I would be down for but the specs have got to be killer to allow decent gameplay of PS1 & PS2 titles…..I was hoping the PS4 or next gen tech would be a complimentary device(highly unlikely) to the PS3 because I personally feel the PS3 can be milked for another 3-5 years. Its such an awesome system with all the bells and whistles that could be asked of it. Its my all in one entertainment system and the games still look phenomenal to me.

    AND of course im looking for a PS4. I want to see Sony’s final stance and what they are going to do with the Used Market of videogames. I want to see the monster specs this beast is pushing. I hope they don’t adopt a subscription model which is forced for us to use multiplayer.

    I want to definately see this on the go gaming they talked about when they first mentioned the Vita, allowing ppl to continue a console game on the vita. I was definately dying for that type of gameplay with blockbuster titles. Evidently, it has not happened. Hopefully Gaikai, some new app, or Game devs can make that happen with Sony. Sadly my gaming time has become limited due to having a family. My gaming heydays were in my 5-22yr ages, now im 27. Going thru with this gaming model would definately help me get back into gaming during my breaks at work. I really miss the gaming i used to do because it brought me stress relief and my wife doesnt like gaming too much…….for now im stuck to small games on my phone.

    • nwd1911

      I lol’d when you said “sadly my gaming time has become limited due to having a family.” It’s supposed to be one of the best parts of your life, not a sad part. Your description of having kids (I’m assuming that’s what you meant) and a wife that doesn’t like gaming sums up my life completely. I can’t wait to see what Sony does with the PS4…I’m hoping they don’t come up with some crazy idea that no one wants/adopts (I’m looking at you HTC). I had to make a deal with my wife to let me watch the announcement live :)

      • Andrew torres

        ROFL …well i didnt mean to make it sound like having a family is sad, its my gaming time which has nearly gone to nill and thats sad….

        • nwd1911

          I laughed because you made me think of myself and my family life. I have to be very strategic with my gaming time as well, it has taken a big hit since my “little bundles of joy” have come along. I describe my kids as the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to me, lol.

  • Powsniffer0110

    Sony has already said they’d wait for.Microsoft

  • junefahren

    Another fat, slow & ugly Playstation phone? Did Sony not learn their lessons during the first time around?

  • Jayshmay

    They should! Sony shouldn’t give up on a PlayStation phone!

  • Kc

    luxtechblog.blogspot.com ps4 updates

  • jesse

    I have an xperia play and I must say it may not have high end specs but it is hands down the best phone I have ever had. And this is even after using a GS3 for 2 weeks. For gaming and emulators. This phone rocks.

    • No_Nickname90

      I still think the HTC G2 was the greatest phone. Trackpad for picking an area in your texts instead of using your inaccurate fingers and a full qwerty because software keyboards don’t realize that you meant to type “the” instead of “tue”. OH MY GOSH!! I HATE THAT SO MUCH!! And “NY” instead of “my”. MY GOSH!!

      Sorry. =.[

      Anyways, wii all have our likes. =.D
      I’m more than sure that Full Qwertys died after the Droid 4 and Sprint Photon Q.

      • http://www.facebook.com/megann.mcgovernn Megan Elise

        I’m not positive when those came out but I have a stratosphere with a full qwerty – and the newly released Strat II has a full qwerty too.