When Sony Ericsson conceived the Xperia Play to resemble a ‘next-level’ gaming smartphone perhaps it was deliberate not to project it as a potential replacement for its handheld gaming devices. And if the company has suffered disappointing results in terms of handsets sales as is the case with titles written for the device, then it is time to learn lessons in terms of product positioning and marketing appeal. Indeed a leaf they needed to have borrowed was one from Apple’s iPod Touch book. Apple cannot be oblivious of the appeal and market for dedicated gamers (the App Store catalogue is a reminder if it needed any), and the temptation to steer the iPod Touch in that direction may seem a logical one. But Apple is just not doing it yet because it takes much more than just potential to dominate any product niche.
The fact is that Sony Ericsson gave it a shot with the Xperia PLAY; a display of 480 x 854 pixels on a decent 4 inch LCD capacitive touch screen, PSP like gamepad with tactile feedback, 1GHz Scorpion processor swashbuckling on 512 MB of RAM, a 5 mega pixel camera with auto focus and LED flash, and the full force of Android Gingerbread to leverage Xperia Play and Playstation Pocket for gaming thrills. These are the very evidence to show that Sony Ericsson was determined to leave no one behind in its quest to satisfy the needs for smartphone and the itch for gaming. And that may also be among its many reasons for underwhelming, because such precarious balancing acts force compromises which may not necessarily be considered if its roles were more streamlined. So did Sony Ericsson exactly saddle a lazy horse for this bold strike?
Well, let’s consider a fresh new approach in which the objective remains the same; to bring the appeal of gaming to more people in the guise of a smartphone. Think of a radical new design, very stylish and attractive to lure even a foppish grandpa. This means stripping off the ‘unnecessary’ smartphone baggages such as LED flash to make room better battery and ergonomics. Then fit in monster guts (no less than dual core 1.5GHz processor and 1GB of RAM) and squish the Playstation 3 operating system into a mobile version (to also power the phone component) to support easy porting of the vast titles catalogue for this mobile handset. Of course, a new name instead of the Xperia(no matter how successful the latter has proven) was a necessity. As for the smartphone component it only needs to do the calling, internet and multimedia bits competently so hold back on features that push the bounds of rivalry with dedicated smartphones. The screen must be mind-blowing in brilliance and the gamepad keys must undergo a design flourish to add aesthetics as well as functionality. Then with a marketing blitz concocted to subtly appeal to the fun and playfulness in consumers it is hyped into the market place. At least this way, Sony Ericsson would not err on the lack of serious effort.