While Sony has been the subject of unfounded speculation that it might be acquired by Apple, a move by the electronics giant to address its dwindling share of the mobile gaming market appears to have more substance.
Tech blog Engadget recently published images and details of a claimed prototype of the PlayStation phone - an apparent combination of the PSP and a Sony Ericsson handset.
Claiming the device is headed to the market soon, Engadget reckons it will come with Android 3.0 (Gingerbread) and run a Qualcomm MSM8x55 SoC, which is an evolution of the Snapdragon chip found in many of today's smartphones, but clocks up to 1GHz and has the improved Adreno 205 graphics processor.
It will apparently have a screen size in the range of 3.7 - 4.1 inches, and feature a special version of the Android Marketplace geared to selling Sony games. The original PSP runs a MIPS chip, while Qualcomm uses the ARM instruction set, so that implies existing PSP games won't be cross-compatible.
But the big hardware concession to gaming will be a slide-out, PlayStation-style control pad. Sony's original PSP hasn't been quite the success Sony would have hoped. While Nintendo won't have helped, it's felt that people are increasingly gaming on smartphones. The iPhone has had a lot of success in this area and Microsoft's recently launched WP7 mobile platform is highly integrated with the Xbox.
Engadget reckons a more realistic ETA for the PlayStation phone will be early next year, so it could be one of the big announcements at Mobile World Congress. The debate will always continue about the merits of stand-alone devices versus all-in-ones, but the trend for portable gaming seems to be firmly in the direction of smartphones, so this could be Sony's chance to get back in the game.
Image courtesy of Engadget, of course.