Sony Ericsson’s first mobile phone to incorporate the PSP gaming system, launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday, is being seen by analysts as the company’s greatest oppotunity to re-establish itself in the ‘connected home’ market.Facing intense pressure from games-capable smartphones, the Android 2.3 powered Xperia Play smartphone features a catalogue of games including Assassin’s Creed, the Sims and Dungeon Defender as well as Electronic Art’s Fifa series.
But analysts say the Xperia Play has its work cut out in getting gamers to cross over to its PlayStation console, where it was a pioneer.
Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum said the company has looked ‘increasingly flat-footed in the wake of more aggressive, and critically, more software savvy rivals such as Apple, Microsoft and increasingly Samsung’.
He said: “Sony Ericsson’s new Android 2.3-powered Xperia Play smartphone certainly packs a punch on the hardware front – especially its 60fps, 3D-capable Adreno GPU – but there’s potentially a lot more riding on this device than its ability to bring high-end gaming to the smartphone space.
“Unlike previous Sony brand extensions to mobile, which were rather more utilitarian in outlook – such as Sony Ericsson’s music and media-oriented Walkman phones and Cybershot camera and imaging-led handsets – the PlayStation brand has much more of a tech savvy, connected and leading edge image.
“As such it represents perhaps Sony’s greatest opportunity to re-establish itself as a leading brand in the connected and (more especially) the “extended” home market.
Cripps said success could help re-establish Sony and Sony Ericcson as pioneers of new technology-led user behaviours.
Recently a survey by Parks Associates found that popular games with online components such as Call of Duty and Madden NFL, as well as multimedia content such as Netflix streaming services, were creating huge growth in online video by driving more households online.
“The Xperia Play clearly needs to capture the imagination of gamers on its parent company’s PlayStation console – especially in terms of creating shared experiences across TV and mobile gaming.
“But it must also tempt the wider smartphone-buying market with Sony’s vision of a joined up, multi-screen applications and content experience beyond gaming.
“Failure could see the once-leading consumer electronics brand become an also ran in an increasingly vertically-integrated world,” Cripps added.