It’s really no big secret that Sony Ericsson is working on an Android-powered gaming phone with slide-out controls — Engadget has already published numerous photos of the device — and now the company CEO has gone on record confirming the handset in so many words. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, SE’s Bert Nordberg reportedly stated that “there’s a lot of smoke, and I tell you there must be a fire somewhere,” in acknowledging media reports of the phone, going on to say that “the future may be brighter,” when asked why the company has yet to attempt such a product. Nordberg further commented that the company plans to “make a lot of noise” with a new product to debut at February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which is highly suggestive of said device’s launch.
The Journal — which first revealed the phone’s existence back in March — also reports that rather than using the PlayStation branding, the phone will likely slot into the Xperia lineup. (Frankly, we’re not sure why the company wouldn’t want to leverage the PlayStation name, but perhaps it fears cannibalizing sales of the PlayStation Portable consoles). Additionally, the WSJ’s source suggested that the games themselves would be played through a dedicated application, although it’s now quite clear what the alternative would be (dual-boot? browser-based?).
This would not be the first time Sony Ericsson tapped parent Sony for assistance with a project, as the company has churned out models with CyberShot, Walkman, and Bravia branding at one point or another. Unlike Microsoft, however, which is attempting to pull together its Xbox, Zune, and Bing properties in Windows Phone 7, Sony Ericsson has very little vertical integration in its products, perhaps to its detriment. If the company is looking for this new handset to be the blockbuster it sorely needs, it seems to us that the key is selling its vision to the big game development houses: without compelling content to differentiate itself from the iPhone and growing WP7 entertainment infrastructures, this phone is probably going to be a tough sell under any name.