PlayStation phone may not replace the PlayStation Portable after all

The PlayStation phone is probably one of the most anticipated Android phones coming to the market next year and punters are saying that the device will be the one to shift Sony’s direction in the portable gaming landscape. The thing is Sony probably has something completely different in mind.

In an interview with the New York Times, Sony’s gaming chief, Kazuo Hirai, expected by some analysts to be Sony’s next president, commented briefly about the PlayStation phone and he had this to say:

“We don’t want gamers to be asking, what’s the difference between that and a PSP, we have to come up with a message that users will understand. It would have to be a product that keeps the PlayStation’s strengths intact.”

We don’t know about you but that is a clear indication of how the PlayStation phone will be positioned in the portable gaming market. Turns out it’s not going to be a PlayStation phone after all.

From the way we understand it, Sony sees the PlayStation name as a strong brand with a strong following an appeal among gamers. The PlayStation phone on the other hand is seen as an in-betweener for people who are not seriously into gaming but enjoy the occasional game time and take their casual games seriously.

In the grand scheme of things the PlayStation brand will always be a pure gaming platform. We don’t see that changing anytime soon. The PlayStation phone, on the other hand, will never be a part of that, instead it will offer a more game-centric platform for the casual gamer, those who want a more engaging experience than just tapping on the screen of an iPhone to play games.

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So if this game-centric, Android-running device will not carry the PlayStation name, what will it be called? Clues are pointing towards “Xperia Play”, a name that is already a trademark held by Sony Ericsson in Europe along with XperiaPlay.com, XperiaPlay.net and XperiaPlay.org domain names.

In fact, if you consider that fact that the PlayStation phone — which from now on will be referred to as the Xperia Play — is running Android says a great deal as to what Sony’s strategy is with the device. Having the Xperia Play run on Android means that it won’t be able to run PlayStation Portable games because PlayStation Portable titles will have to be ported and that takes time and will incur cost. That’s not saying the PSP games will not be ported to the Xperia Play.

What we are saying however is that most of the games that will be running on the Xperia Play will be decidedly different further differentiating it from the PlayStation brand. But of course, as with all things written in this nature, we could be completely wrong and come February 2011 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Sony could very well announce a PlayStation phone. So to be certain, we all will have to wait.

In the meantime, you can read the full interview here.

So, who’s excited about a Android powered Sony Ericsson smart phone?