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Cellphones Handhelds Sony Entertainment Games Hardware

Sony Pondering Game/Phone Hybrid 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the too-little-too-late dept.
A report from a Japanese business publication says Sony is currently making plans to develop a cell phone with gaming capabilities in order to compete with the iPhone. "Sony plans to set up a project team as early as July to develop a new product that combines functions of its portable game player and Sony Ericsson's mobile phones, the Nikkei said." This comes shortly after news that the new PSP Go will be open to "non-gaming applications."
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Sony Pondering Game/Phone Hybrid

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  • by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @05:54AM (#28526101)

    I know, I know, it's hip on /. to hate Sony for their DRM and rootkits, and their music division *can* go screw themselves in the eye over that one.

    But I like their consumer electronics, they're pretty and they're slick. A game device/phone coming from such a giant could be a huge thing.

    • by Dionysus (12737)

      Kinda like N-Gage was huge

      • by Nursie (632944)

        That was a phone company with no gaming track record.

        OTOH, I agree that Nokia make good interfaces and good devices and perhaps we could have expected that particular gamble to do a little better.

        • by Canazza (1428553) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @06:22AM (#28526257)

          the N-Gage was more a gaming console than it was a phone (Atleast, the first one was) and it wasn't terrible. It had a few good games on it, but the catalogue was meagre at best. And using it as a phone was laughable. It felt like holding a banana to your head.

          The second one was better on the banana front, but again, a lack of games and marketing doomed it to failure.

          Sony has alot of gaming clout, and any hand-held phone/console would most likely be able to run existing PSP games, giving it a significant back catalogue to start out with.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A game device/phone coming from such a giant could be a huge thing.

      Likely, but Blu-ray drives are getting smaller.

    • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @06:27AM (#28526283) Homepage Journal
      These days the usability of a device has to be counted as a significant part of it's slickness. Sony devices get marks for looking nice when they are turned off but always seem to fall short when you want to use them.
      • by Nursie (632944)

        Actually, I kinda like their menu interface on the PSP and PS3. If they brought that (or an adapted, touch friendly analogue to a phone somehow I think it could work.

        • Yes, their PSP, PS3 interface is pretty slick. I recently replaced an old Sony camera (absolutely no complaints, fool proof, never had to open the manual, etc.) with their latest incarnation (DSC-T500). The user interface on this one is, in one word "horrendous". Didn't seem from the same company.
          • Now you mention it I have one Sony device, a VCR, which has an "Easy Timer" combined button/knob that makes setting timers incredibly easy, every VCR should have it. I swear that the Sony engineer who designed that must have forgotten to mention it in all his meetings and ultimately got fired for producing something so useful when the managers found out after release.

            I think the worst product I've ever had from them was a "Network Walkman". It looked beautiful and was tiny but the software was an absolute
      • by Lisandro (799651)
        Mod parent up. This is my usual gripe with Sony products - top notch hardware, crap functionality. I've been burned so many times that nowadays i steer clear of anything Sony, even if it looks good on the surface. I've had Sony cellphones, Minidiscs, MP3 players, audio equipment and TVs and i always managed to screw me over with some simple thing that wasn't available for no apparent reason.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Blue_Wombat (737891)
      Their DRM and rootkits provide ample grounds to passionatley hate Sony, and I do. However, these aren't the entirety of the story, and its more than just this that we hate them for. It's also the fact that they seem to hate their paying customers and operate in their own parallel universe. Proprietary connectors, feature lockouts, unfriendliness to people modding the equipment that they have bought, radio station payola, and an incessant drive to establish their own standards rather than use an industry sta
      • re: the 2.5mm jack

        check out DealExtreme [dealextreme.com], for a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter: $1.85 and has a built in mic. i have had good luck purchasing from them and when i bought there was no shipping charges. it sucks that you have to buy one, but if you do at least get one that is cheap like it should be. around here similar adapters cost 10 times this much money at a phone store.
      • by brkello (642429)
        Wow, did Sony also steal your ability to insert line breaks as well? Truly an evil company.
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by tepples (727027)

      it's hip on /. to hate Sony for their DRM and rootkits [...] But I like their consumer electronics

      When you make this statement, do you take into account Sony's utter failure to provide any official homebrew environment on the PSP or slim PS2? Even the Xbox 360 has XNA.

      • by EdZ (755139)
        I'm guessing you don't remember Net Yaroze? Or the PS2 linux kit? The PS3, as you hopefully do know, is ready to have linux installed on it out-of-the-box.
        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          When you make this statement, do you take into account Sony's utter failure to provide any official homebrew environment on the PSP or slim PS2? Even the Xbox 360 has XNA.

          I'm guessing you don't remember Net Yaroze? Or the PS2 linux kit?

          I'm guessing you can't read. Net Yaroze and the PS2 Linux Kit will not help you with the Slim PS2. The pathetic PS2 homebrew community (pathetic in size, because there is no access to the GPU so why fucking bother) was left out in the cold when it came to new-model PS2s, which have absolutely no way to run that content. Incidentally, the Net Yaroze was $1000, available only on a limited basis, and the program has been entirely discontinued. There is zero support for Net Yaroze today, even though PS2 games a

          • Sony's Linux "support" on the PS2 and PS3 is a joke. I'm not sure why they even offered if (since it's so laughably crippled). There were rumors that they were only offering this for the PS2, and later the PS3, so they could get around some EU import tax by getting the console classified as a "computer" (though that seems to be discredited).
          • by Gizzmonic (412910)

            Did you notice that you're not allowed to use the GPU in the PS3 under Linux? That's not Linux, that's crippleware. Sony can take their hypervisor and stick it up their ass.

            There's two good reasons for that. Number one, they don't want PS3 Linux to serve as a cheap devkit. Number two, they want people programming with the SPUs as much as possible...in fact, the early PS3 designs had no GPU at all. You can do a lot of video and audio processing with the SPUs [ps2dev.org], if you take the time.

        • I'm guessing you don't remember Net Yaroze?

          It was a very limited edition and sold out quickly.

          Or the PS2 linux kit?

          It was a slightly less limited edition but still sold out quickly, and Sony never made a version for the slim PS2.

          The PS3, as you hopefully do know, is ready to have linux installed on it out-of-the-box.

          Granted, that was a nice gesture, but the article is about handhelds. Once Sony discontinued the Clié PDA in 2005, which handheld device made by Sony supports Linux or other homebrew methods? Do any of Sony Ericsson's phones count?

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Aceticon (140883)

      Hating Sony for their DRM and rootkits is dumb: one should use cold hard logic and look at the DRM and rootkit in the context of the wider corporate policy.

      Application of cold hard logic to Sony's behavior shows that they turned from a company whose main drive was to create excellent products (once upon a time they were known for the exceptional quality of their products) into one whose main drive is to squeeze as much revenue as possible from their customers, often in deceitful ways such as sneaking into t

    • by macshit (157376)

      But I like their consumer electronics, they're pretty and they're slick. A game device/phone coming from such a giant could be a huge thing.

      Historically, Sony had very good industrial design -- conservative, but almost always elegant in an understated way. These days things seem considerably weirder.

      Their laptops, for instance, are lovely, slim and elegant (though apparently a bit flimsy). Their MP3 players are a wacky bling-fest. SCE (Sony Computer Entertainment, playstation etc), apparently does all their own design, thus the absurdly ugly original playstation, and the hit and miss character of everything after that: PS2 -- big, but not s

    • Sorry but Sony Ericsson did pretty bad with the P990i which is the class of phone you need for "gaming phone". I fact I have quite a few very nice games for it. Only the Firmware is buggy and memory should be twice as much as it is. If they are as cheap with there new "gaming phone" as they have been with there smart phones it well be just another disaster.

  • Lets build a IPhone!

    • by jd2112 (1535857)
      More like a PSPhone, which might not be a bad idea.
      • by sam0vi (985269)

        Exactly! How hard can it be to add a GPS/GPRS/UMTS/whatever chip and antenna on the thing and the minimal required interface to dial a number and write a text. It's already the size of an iPhone, and i doubt the additions will make it noticeably bulkier.
        And as a plus, i doubt the device would be as crippled as the iPhone is/was.

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      Lets build a Phone!

      Fixed that for you.

      Believe it or not, phones were playing games long before Apple joined the party late. I know there's a trend here on Slashdot to redefine the word "phone" with "Iphone", but let's not push it.

      • by node 3 (115640)

        Lets build a Phone!

        Fixed that for you.

        Believe it or not, phones were playing games long before Apple joined the party late. I know there's a trend here on Slashdot to redefine the word "phone" with "Iphone[sic]", but let's not push it.

        Apple is now the preeminent phone gaming platform. If Sony is planning to create a compelling gaming phone, a comparison to the iPhone is apt, and it's a comparison which Sony is bound fall short in.

        It's also amusing that you criticize Apple for coming to the party late, while defending a PSP SonyEricsson two years after the launch of the original iPhone.

  • Nokia... (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Nokia did that and it ROCKED.

  • by WeirdingWay (1555849) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @06:44AM (#28526377)
    They'll never compete with the App Store and the momentum it's built. Knowing Sony they'll come up with a new proprietary hardware format and given their history, odds are not in favor of its survival.
    • by Nursie (632944)

      I think the app store is fine, but a bit like the blogosphere.

      I mean, it's the best thing EVAR to those involved, and they get excited about it and there's a lot of activity and a lot of vibrancy and life within the scene.

      To everyone else it's just kinda "meh".

      • by node 3 (115640)

        I think the app store is fine, but a bit like the blogosphere.

        I mean, it's the best thing EVAR to those involved, and they get excited about it and there's a lot of activity and a lot of vibrancy and life within the scene.

        To everyone else it's just kinda "meh".

        Sure, but if you're planning to get into online opinion/news publishing, you're going to enter the blogosphere, and become one of "those involved".

        Same thing with the App Store. It's a big deal primarily to those with iPhones, but if you're one of those outsiders without and iPhone really interested in running apps on your phone, you're most likely going to get an iPhone.

        What you've said is sort of like saying "sports is the best thing EVAR only to sports fans".

        • by Nursie (632944)

          "if you're one of those outsiders without and iPhone really interested in running apps on your phone, you're most likely going to get an iPhone."

          Yeah, but I don't think outsiders are really interested.

          "What you've said is sort of like saying "sports is the best thing EVAR only to sports fans"."

          Other than questions of scale - I don't for a minute think there are as many iPhone fans as there are sportsfans - yes. I have no interest in sports either...

        • by Nursie (632944)

          Actually, I meant a little more than that too.

          The blogosphere is renowned for being full of people who think they're important because other bloggers read and comment on their stuff. It's almost the epitome of a circle-jerk. This is the way I think about the iPhone app store too.

          Sure, but if you're planning to get into online opinion/news publishing, you're going to enter the blogosphere, and become one of "those involved".

          Yes, and few people bother to do that, and out of those that don't publish, very few

    • by sam0vi (985269)

      Knowing Sony they'll come up with a new proprietary hardware format and given their history, odds are not in favor of its survival.

      Excuse me, but where have you been these last few years?? Living under a rock? No... i remembered now, trolls like to live under bridges. The latest Sony entertainment hardware is more open than you could expect, using as many standard technologies as possible. It's so obvious that i won't even GTFY.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @06:59AM (#28526459) Homepage Journal
    I doubt they will make anything all that good. Part of the problem with the game/phone combination is that the input devices for one don't necessarily coorespond to the other. Apple solved this by getting rid of all "hard" buttons(save for one) and replacing it with a touch screen. This works for some games, but many of the games I play use a joystick and the "soft" joystick on the iPhone doesn't cut it. If my finger slips I lose a lot of reaction time trying to find the button again, so the all soft approach doesn't work either. However, if Sony would get back to the old days of innovating, it would be awesome if Sony could introduce some haptics to allow the touch screen to give physical feedback when playing a game.
    • it would be awesome if Sony could introduce some haptics to allow the touch screen to give physical feedback when playing a game.

      Knowing Sony I'd wager it would immediately be used to give you an electric shock should they find out that you (or at least have a hunch that you might) play a game you didn't pay Sony a single dime for.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Knowing Sony I'd wager it would immediately be used to give you an electric shock should they find out that you (or at least have a hunch that you might) play a game you didn't pay Sony a single dime for.

        Are you referring to "piracy" (unlawful copying of major-label games) or to "homebrew" (original apps and games developed by people in home offices)?

        • Where's the difference (from the Sony POV)? Sony doesn't get a cut from either, so it has to be evil.

          • by tepples (727027)

            Where's the difference (from the Sony POV)?

            The difference depends on the answer to the following question: If Sony wants to restrict software on PlayStation products, why doesn't it also restrict software on VAIO products?

            • by node 3 (115640)

              The difference depends on the answer to the following question: If Sony wants to restrict software on PlayStation products, why doesn't it also restrict software on VAIO products?

              Because they can't.

        • by node 3 (115640)

          Are you referring to "piracy" (unlawful copying of major-label games) or to "homebrew" (original apps and games developed by people in home offices)?

          Yes.

          • by tepples (727027)
            If homebrew consists of programs developed by people not part of a company, and Sony considers homebrew as damaging as piracy, then on which platform should students learn to program before they join a company? Don't say PC because Sony makes those too.
  • Nintendo should do this too or risk losing their status as the leader of hand-held gaming. People already carry mobile phones on them wherever they go and many do not want or would prefer not to carry a second device for gaming. It would make sense to release two versions of the device, one with phone capabilities and one without as there is still a market for children and others who do not want a new phone. My guess is that Sony's offering will be PSP Go compatible.
    • You used "Sony" and "compatible" in the same sentence without a negation in between them? I admire your optimism.

    • by alen (225700)

      or nintendo can just sell games in the appstore. i bet selling the software without having to develop the hardware is a lot more profitable. Only reason they couldn't do it before was that Sony was a competitor in the home console market as well. Unless the rumors are true of Apple's game console in development, it's easier to just sell the games in the appstore. 50 million installed base and the device is already more powerful than the DS. The iPhone 3G S is supposed to be very close to the PSP in power

      • That's not really nintendo's MO. They've been making their own hardware for longer than anyone else in the gaming market, and always introduce innovations to their control schemes. Nintendo's already done a touch screen, but they also threw in another screen, a d pad, and 6 buttons. Plus, on the subject of the DS, they'd be competing with themselves if they did that. It seems pretty unlikely to me that they'd move to another company's platform for portable gaming when they just released their own portab

  • ...then they could actually have a nice machine able to somewhat compete NOW.
    I still cannot understand how they ended up redesigning the PSP without a freakin' touchscreen... without it a lot of nice apps/games are not practical or even possible.

  • "A people should know when they are conquered." -Maximus from the movie Gladiator
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Not to nitpick at that quote, but I guess I will anyway. It was actually:

      Quintus: "People should know when they are conquered."
      Maximus: "Would you, Quintus? Would I?"

      • by gklinger (571901)
        Perhaps you're correct although I did draw my quote from the actual screenplay [imsdb.com] as written by David Franzoni so I'm going to defer to him in this case.

        Say, how many times have you seen Gladiator?

      • by gklinger (571901)
        The more I think about this, the more I think you're right. I'll have to rent the movie tonight just to rewatch that scene which means this is going to eat away at me all day. I have got to stop coming to Slashdot.
  • Competition! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frogbert (589961) <frogbertNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @07:19AM (#28526579)

    This is more competition in the market, it can only be a good thing.

    If it sucks, no one will buy it, if it has great features, other phones will innovate to keep up.

  • Homebrew? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @07:27AM (#28526641) Homepage Journal
    SCEA PR rep Al De Leon said:

    The goal in that is to enable all sorts of developers to be able to develop content for the PSP

    Did he intend to include developers who operate out of home offices (like Apple's iPhone model, which copied Microsoft's XNA model)? Or is "all sorts of developers" limited to established companies with an office building and a published title on another platform, like it was on prior Sony and Nintendo platforms?

    • This comes shortly after news that the new PSP Go will be open to "non-gaming applications."

      The homebrew folks have been making non-gaming applications for quite a while now, but Sony, for some stupid reason, keeps trying to make the PSP harder and harder to "hack." I'm not sure why this is, since a hacked PSP can do a lot more things than a stock one can do, most notably allowing just about anybody to write an application that will run on it. For instance, you can get eBook readers and calendar applications for a "hacked" PSP. That right there makes the device a heck of a lot more useful. Hec

  • by christ0 (1588435)
    Sony have sat on the technology capable of dominating this market long before Apple even hinted at the iphone, and yet nothing was done. Okay so they might get some market (like the PSP gets some market) but really, Apple are well and truly gone with this sector. Sony's lack of joined up thinking between divisions (apparently recently fixed) has cost it dearly, they really should have been trying to pull the PSP into a Smartphone since the day it was launched. Could you imagine the power Sony would have had
  • Seriously, if they want a gaming phone, why can't Sony just invest time into making Android better. Sony Erickson is already planning [wikipedia.org] on making phones for Android, and it's already been established that even the HTC Dream can be a decent gaming platform [slashdot.org].

    If Sony actually followed through on this, I might actually like Sony again.

  • ...will it have sidetalkin'?

  • ...Sony had a portable music player called the "Walkman" which was so dominant that every portable music player was referred to as a "Walkman", even if it was a clone made by some other company. Sony had the market totally sewn up. Sony was going to own portable music players until the end of time. There was only one small flaw in this cunning plan.

    Sony is retarded. Or, rather, the electronic devices arm of Sony became the bitch of Sony's music arm. So everything that was cool about the Walkman was pushed t

  • ...but only if they bring back Side Talkin' [sidetalkin.com].
  • the name brand games in the appstore are $9.99. A lot of good games for $.99 through $5.99. I'll buy an app for a $1 without thinking twice about it.

    I think PSP games cost $50. I doubt Sony will sell a lot of these phones if the games cost $50.

  • I was there at the E3 where they announced the PsP, where it would have phone, GPS, Camera, movies and a game console.... uh.... We waited for years while none of this came to fruition, the games got crappier, the movie thing bombed (because you could watch a whole movie on a single charge).... Back then (what 2001, 2002), they could have been the leader. Now they are the retarded loser.... The iPhone has all of these AND the delivery channel... who cares what Sony does in this space? Not me.

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