Sony PlayStation Device Could Also Make Phone Calls

Just about any cell phone can be used to play games. But there hasn’t yet been a portable gaming device that makes phone calls.

That could change soon, with Sony reportedly testing the prototype of an Android-powered PlayStation Phone. The device manufactured by the company’s Sony Ericsson phone division has slide-out gaming controls, a touchscreen, a one-gigahertz Qualcomm processor, 512MB of RAM, and one gigabyte of storage.

Engadget first reported the development of the phone in August, and on Tuesday posted the first leaked pictures of the hybrid device. It said the device could debut by the holidays, or in early 2011.

Nintendo Passes on Phone

Sony rival Nintendo, in partnership with Finland-based smartphone giant Nokia, was also reported to have looked into melding its DS portable gaming platform with a cell-phone radio. But that idea appears to have been nixed after research into a device called NGage, according to the British site PocketGamer.

Nintendo of America President and CEO Reggie Fils-Aime told The New York Times in May 2009 that “telephony is not in our wheelhouse. It’s not something I anticipate us getting into.” He did say, however, that the company was considering adding 3G functionality to its devices to allow connectivity for interactive games without a Wi-Fi hot spot.

The report on the PlayStation phone said it will likely run the next Android operating system, 3.0, code-named Gingerbread.

Intriguing Prospect

While a gaming phone wouldn’t have crossover appeal to non-gamers the way an iPhone appeals to game fans and other consumers, Android’s non-gaming features and its growing application market could be attractive to those looking to consolidate devices.

“Do gamers make phone calls? Certainly, though I expect the phones would also need to support text messaging, IM and similar features,” said Charles King, principal analyst for Pund-IT. “But typical analysis suggests that Apple’s current market dominance…

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