Sony Unveils Phone Gaming App, while PlayStation Phone and PSP2 Rumors Persist

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With game playing among smartphone users continuing to climb, Sony plans to release a PlayStation application for iOS and Android OS devices as its next move into smartphone gaming.

Although the exact release date for the app remains unknown, an announcement from Sony spells out the specifics about exactly what the software will do, and which versions of the two mobile operating systems will get support.

The app is almost certain to arrive more quickly than Sony’s long anticipated PlayStation Phone, if that rumored device ever indeed sees the light of day. Sony is also rumored to be planning a second edition of its PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld gaming device, supposedly to be known as the PSP2.

Sony plans to release the new app for iOS and Android OS devices “very soon.” The app will be offered in Europe first, according to the announcement.

Specifically, Sony’s new app will let users discover new games, news and hardware for the PSP, PlayStation (PS) 3, and PS 2.3; check out their PlayStation Network trophies; keep up-to-date with friends’ games and online status; and share products and news through e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.

The gaming app will run on Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch with iOS 4.0 and up, and on Android OS 1.6 (Donut) and higher.

Sony stepped into the smartphone gaming market in 2009 with several games for the iPhone and iPod touch, including Ghostbusters, Q*Bert, Top Agent, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy.

A current game title from Sony, the blockbuster hit “Infinity Blade,” is available for the PSP, iPhone and iPod touch, but not for Android-based devices.

Still only rumors: Android OS-based Playstation Phone and PSP2
This week, Sony added more fuel to rumors of a PlayStation Portable 2 — or some other new portable gaming device — in an interview with the New York Times.

In the published interview, Kaz Hirai, Sony’s PlayStation boss, reportedly admitted the success of Apple’s iOS devices, but added that Sony’s platform is geared to different types of games.

Sony PlayStation Phone“Depending on the game, there are ones where you can play perfectly well with a touch panel. But you can definitely play immersive games better with physical buttons and pads. I think there could be games where you’re able to use both in combination,” according to Hirai.

Sony’s rumored upcoming PSP2 game machine is widely reported to include a rear touch panel.

Rumors of an Android OS-based PlayStation phone from Sony have been based on photos and specs of a mock-up device and later prototype version.

Specs for the prototype reportedly include Android 3.0 (aka Honeycomb); a 1 GHz processor (Qualcomm MSM8655); a touchscreen apparently measuring 3.7- to 4.1-inches; and, on a rear panel, a D-Pad, buttons, and a multi-touch area usable as a virtual joystick.

Smartphone Gamers Increasing Faster than Handheld Gamers
Meanwhile, a report released by Interpret LLC earlier this month showed that while the number of users of handheld gaming devices keeps rising, the smartphone gaming audience is growing even faster.

In a “demographically representative” survey of 9,000 consumers aged 12 to 65, the analysts identified a user base of approximately 12 million active players who game exclusively on smartphones for the second quarter of 2010, in contrast to merely 7.4 million for the same period the year before.

Users who gamed exclusively on handheld game machines like the PSP and Nintendo DS amounted to 21.5 million over the most recent measurement period, but that total represented just a slight increase from 21 million in Q2 of 2009.

Players who gamed on both smartphones and handhelds soared from 3.5 million during Q2 of 2009 to 4.7 million a year later.

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