The report comes courtesy of Nikkei via Reuters. According to the Reuters article, this new gaming phone — a collaboration between Sony and Ericsson — is going to be positioned as an iPod/iPhone competitor (naturally). A development team is said to be preparing to start development of the device as early as this July.
Nikkei is often a reliable source for breaking news when it comes to the Japanese games/tech industry, most recently responsible for uncovering both the DSi and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. before their respective public debuts. Furthermore, the Reuters report states that Sony declined to comment when approached about the story; that is to say, they did not deny its credibility.
Adding further credibility to this story is the fact that, as a result of a recent management reorganization at Sony spearheaded by Sir Howard Stringer, Kaz Hirai is now in charge of a group tasked with the development of a new digital service that will be available across a multitude of Sony devices. Kunai Suzuki, who is Hirai’s deputy, will be responsible for introducing a new generation of devices compatible with this service and could very well be the man in charge of overseeing the development of a new gaming phone.
Interestingly enough, the PlayStation Network development team now reports to Tim Schaaf, an ex-Apple veteran who is now Sony’s first head of software development, and is also part of Hirai’s new division.
According to the CNN report:
While Sony executives are short on the specifics, Hirai says the new service will overlay the backbone of the PlayStation Network but will be broader and more open. The service would make easier such things as putting images from a camera on TV, displaying and editing video, sharing with friends, and storage. Brand loyalists would be rewarded with incentives like discounts and premium services.
Stringer has intimated that the company is in a position to make acquisitions that will accelerate the effort, and Hirai says the first glimpse of the new service should be seen by next spring.
Make of that what you will. What we can say is, the PSP — regardless of its position as a high-end multimedia Sony device — does not currently include an inbuilt camera that could take advantage of the service, and the PSP Go in retrospect sounds more like a half-step between the current PSP and this next-generation gaming phone.
Perhaps this new device will debut alongside Sony’s digital service next Spring or shortly thereafter for some good old-fashioned hardware+software synergy?