Sony assembling PSP phone team - Report

Japanese daily Nikkei says product-development team from gaming, mobile phone arms of electronics firm may begin work on new device as early as July.

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In early 2008, Sony Computer Entertainment announced a deal with voice-over-IP service provider Skype that would introduce a mobile-phone component to all models of the PSP past its original iteration. The move by and large quelled rampant speculation that Sony was prepping a redesign of the handheld that would include native mobile-phone functionality.

No sidetalkin' for the PSP Go.
No sidetalkin' for the PSP Go.

This weekend, though, saw a resurgence of that speculation. On Saturday, Japanese business newspaper Nikkei reported that Sony plans to assemble a product-development team tasked with combining the PSP's game-playing functionality with Sony Ericsson's mobile phone technology, Reuters reports. According to the report, the development team may be assembled as early as July.

Nikkei notes that Sony's move is an attempt by the electronics giant to better compete against Apple's increasingly ubiquitous iPhone. According to marketing analytics site Mob Clix, the iPhone's App Store currently offers more than 50,000 applications, 12,000 of which fall into the gaming category. The iPhone's App Store also enjoys support from high-profile publishers hailing form both the East and West, ranging from Electronic Arts to Square Enix.

As part of its 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference, Sony unveiled the PSP Go, which is due for release on October 1. Taking on mobile-phone-like proportions, the device is 50 percent smaller and 40 percent lighter than the current PSP-3000, and it packs a sliding screen, 16GB of flash memory, and integrated Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth and Memory Stick Micro support.

Last week, the publisher confirmed that one reason for lowering the cost of the PSP development toolset by 80 percent--a move announced during E3--was to attract a wider range of potential developers. "The goal with that is to enable all sorts of developers to be able to develop content for the PSP," a Sony representative told GameSpot sister site CNET. "It will mostly be games, but there's certainly an opportunity to look at some non-gaming applications."

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