What Sony Must Get Right With Its PlayStation Phone

Engadget last week posted photos of a phone/portable gaming system hybrid from Sony (s sne) that could have massive appeal among the gamer set. I think the market for a game-centric smartphone is ripe for a PlayStation phone (or another game-centric device), but as I write in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, for Sony to avoid a flop of Ngage-type proportions, it must get these things right:

  • The hardware. A true gaming phone — one that better supports and replicates console-style play — requires more sophisticated controls and a larger screen. That kind of handset would be too bulky for mainstream consumers, and developing one that could compete on price with other smartphones will be difficult. But many gamers carry a portable gaming device in addition to their phones. Replacing those two gadgets with one — even if it is, say, 50 percent bigger than their current phones — is a compelling proposition.
  • Marketing. Even the best smartphone will struggle to find an audience if it isn’t marketed well. Just ask Palm.
  • Carrier partnerships. Carriers may be less powerful than ever in the world of mobile, but they can still make or break a mobile device. Any manufacturer looking to bring a gaming phone to market would be wise to partner up with a deep-pocketed operator who can back the device with retail distribution and marketing savvy.
  • The developer community. Sony should take a cue from Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android, which have spurred a flurry of app development by lowering the barriers to entry.
  • Game distribution. Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market have built massive libraries by enabling developers to easily upload their apps and make them available to millions of users. That’s a strategy Sony needs to follow.
  • The phone. While any true gaming phone must have sophisticated controls, it must also be easy to use for voice calls, texts, photo-messaging and email. In addition to an acceptable browser, it must also support the wide variety of non-game applications many use in their day-to-day work and home lives.

Read the full post here.

Image courtesy Flickr user USAID_IMAGES.

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