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How Sony Could Screw Up The Playstation Phone (or whatever it will be called)

by Sean P. Aune | March 14, 2010March 14, 2010 2:01 pm PDT

It seems that once again Sony wants to throw its hat into the mobile devices market, and considering the track history of the company in this market, you have to wonder what they could do to make sure they don’t screw it up this time.

The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that it appears Sony is preparing some form of new line of mobile devices that will include at least one phone capable of downloading Playstation games from its upcoming online media platform store.  The only other device that received any form of description is supposed to be a multi-purpose device that will function like a netbook, e-reader and gaming platform all at once.

sonypsphone07This isn’t the first time rumors of a Playstation phone have circulated, back in Aug. 2007, Gizmodo reported on rumors of a phone coming out by Christmas that year and even included the schematics you see shown in this post.  Whatever happened to that plan is unknown, but the evidence seems to be somewhat more plausible this time because of numerous factors such as the impending download store, and the fact that Sony Erricson phones have recently lost 41% of its sales.

Sony’s mobile device sales are definitely suffering, and with the PSP go failing to take off, the company is in desperate need of a hit.  However, has the company learned any lessons from the go, or will it simply repeat them?

The PSP go was built around the idea of downloading games, but due to the high initial price, people were scared away.  Unlike a mobile gaming device, one has to assume that a Playstation Phone would be sold through a carrier, and the price would be reduced by subsidies from the carrier.  This has to be the number one thing for Sony in launching this is the price.  The Playstation 3 was slow to take off due to its pricing.  The PSP go is pretty much a failure due to pricing.  Honestly, Sony overall has had issues with its pricing for several years, and it has been nicknamed “the Sony tax”, just like the one people have said exists at Apple.

No matter how sleek the device, no matter how great the content, if Sony can’t bring this at a reasonable price, it’s going to fail.  We all know that AT&T lures you in with the $199 price on the iPhone and then makes it up in the outrageous data plan pricing for the popular device.  It’s the same with any phone, but the iPhone has a combination of being sleek, having great content and a deceptively low price.  Considering that it is obvious Apple is the main target here, Sony is going to have to study their tactical closely.

And therein is another problem: Can any devices built essentially to combat another as opposed to being built on its own merits really succeed?  How many times have we seen devices built solely to be a “killer” of something else fail because they were just too directed at one target?

Be careful, Sony.  Build this at a price people can afford, and make sure you make it the best Playstation phone it can be as opposed to “the Sony device built to kill the iPhone,” and you might have a winner on your hands.


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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