Sony’s Answer to the iPhone?

by Aaron Wright May 25, 2007

It was announced a couple of days ago that BT and Sony will be partnering up to allow the PSP (PlayStation Portable) to make voice and video calls, but only over the internet in VoIP form.

BT Chief, Steve Andrews, described the combination of “SCEE and BT working together a natural fit. Sony is a world-class company producing some of the world’s most innovative electronic devices and BT is at the forefront of communications with the 21CN global platform. The PSP is an excellent device for both gaming and communications, because of its high quality screen and audio capabilities. With over 8 million PSPs shipped across Europe, we are very excited by the opportunity to give customers a whole new communications experience, connecting and seeing friends across the world through BT’s technology.”

I’m a little skeptical about this idea though. Have you seen the PSP at all? It’s not exactly the smallest of devices and one would look like a bit of a tech-headed clown when holding it up to their ear to make a phone call. There will no doubt be headphones, I know, but whipping them out, plugging them in, and sticking them in your ear every time the device rings will be a bit of a hassle and the fad will surely die out quicker than you can say “iPhone arriving on time!”

I now find myself questioning what Sony wants the PSP to actually be. Is it a portable games console with poor battery life, an oversized MP3 player, a rather poor video player, or a mobile phone? Or is it a case of being an all-in-one that’s doing a half-assed job of the Nintendo DS, iPod, and Nokia N90?

Next there will be 10-year-olds walking down the street with friends making phone calls on the most obvious of technology-kits available while crackheads, looking for the next item to steal in order to satisfy their junkie needs, make a dive for them and steal the pride and joy that their parents probably had to work incredibly hard for. And please don’t tell me a grown adult will be making calls on this down the street, please!

It seems to me that Sony is second place to Nintendo and its DS in the portable games console market at this moment in time and clearly needs a new way to revamp its “boom box of the 1980s” handheld device.

Competing with the iPhone? Not likely. The iPhone was designed first and foremost as a mobile phone (not a Smartfone, people!) and has gotten all the features right, as far as we know, when it comes to making and receiving telephone calls. Secondly, its music player is actually the iPod technology built right in, a tried and tested piece of technology that has sold so much over the past 5 years that it’s now the standard in portable music. Then there’s the video on the iPhone that promises better quality video than the PSP, with H.264 encoding on a 640 x 480 resolution screen; compared to PSP’s MP4 480 x 272 screen, the iPhone wins hands down. The only thing Sony beats the iPhone on here is gaming, which is what the PSP was originally designed to offer and something the iPhone was not. Of course, you could throw in the replaceable battery (which is still poor) and expandable memory to beat the iPhone, but that’s drifting a little off the point somewhat.

Ladies and gentlemen, my rant is over and it’s now your turn to leave your thoughts on Sony and BT’s plans below.


  • The iPhone screen is 320x480, not 640x480.

    RobertM had this to say on May 25, 2007 Posts: 1
  • It’s not exactly the smallest of devices

    I think the iPhone has a couple of really compelling features.  I can’t wait for visual voicemail to trickle down to other phones.

    But form factor?  Hold an iPod to your head like a phone.  Is that comfortable to you?  I think Apple’s allergic aversion to ergonomic shapes is really interesting and frustrating.

    The PSP as a phone is certainly worse, but not THAT much worse, especially when you look at some of the Blackberry phones.  Some of those are the size of a small laptop.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on May 25, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • My problem with the iPhone, apart from not having money, is that it doesn’t look like a phone. No amount of actual quality details like a usable user interface make up for the satisfaction of ending a call with a satisfying snapping motion. I WANT FLIP!
    Anyhoo, VOIP integration doesn’t a cell-replacement make.
    That is all.

    Benji had this to say on May 25, 2007 Posts: 927
  • The PSP as a VoIP terminal (over wifi or BT) would be a laptop replacement more than an iPhone replacement, per se.

    As for the gaming part, you say: The only thing Sony beats the iPhone on here is gaming, which is what the PSP was originally designed to offer and something the iPhone was not. My counter-punch is that the iPhone is a TRUE OSX device down to the core.

    What that means is endless possibilities of advanced games using the Core technologies in the future. A 3D GUI is yet another possibility (and that is coming for the Macs too!).

    So, gaming edge for the PSP now but I will make my bets of great gaming on an iPhone-derived device soon after the launch. Same goes with the AppleTV here since they are derivatives from the Mac.

    Robomac had this to say on May 25, 2007 Posts: 846
  • As titillating as it is, and I can’t help myself for asking, can you imagine playing Starcraft II or W.o.W. with your iPhone’s cool screen?...I thought so.

    Robomac had this to say on May 25, 2007 Posts: 846
  • VOIP integration doesn’t a cell-replacement make.

    I agree with this.  In what way does adding VOIP make the PSP an iPhone competitor?  If you’re going to get a PSP anyway and you are interested in VOIP, then it could be useful.  But it’s not a cell phone and I don’t think it purports to be.

    Now if THEY are making such a claim, then they are way off the mark.  But I don’t think they are.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on May 25, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Initially, at least, the iPhone VoIP capabilities will be temporarily muted…until Steve has his say, of course. Then the real fun of the device begins in earnest.

    Say, after 2-3 years of the cellular contract expires then the proud owner can “activate” a software upgrade from Apple (verified via AT&T surely) that then enables the VoIP potential of the iPhone.

    I believe VoIP will be a complement for the GSM (3G or CDMA in the future) cellular technology. It won’t sell iPhones like hotcakes but just being there will be a damn good selling point.

    Robomac had this to say on May 25, 2007 Posts: 846
  • They are called “smartphones”, not “Smartfones”. smile

    Cool 'n' Casual had this to say on May 26, 2007 Posts: 8
  • Oh, there’s one thing I’ve been meaning to ask for quite a while, why do you guys use Windows Live Messenger (formerly known as MSN Messenger) smileys?

    Cool 'n' Casual had this to say on May 26, 2007 Posts: 8
  • Sure their are blackberries which are “the size of a small laptop”, but there are also phone-size one’s like the Pearl.

    For a typical blackberry, and for the psp, phone service is not why you buy the device, just a nice bonus. Not really sure whether i can say that for the Iphone.

    simo66 had this to say on May 26, 2007 Posts: 78
  • It is tipped to be the next product in the Xperia line after the X1 with icons that look similar to the ones on a PSP. -Tire Works

    Tire Works had this to say on Aug 08, 2011 Posts: 11
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