Jan. 20, 2011 at 7:03 AM ET
If the latest turn in the rumor mill is to be believed, then Sony will be introducing the world to a new PlayStation Portable game machine at a press conference on Jan. 27th and will follow that up by unveiling a new game phone in February.
This news comes courtesy of Bloomberg, which cites two unnamed sources "with knowledge of the plans" as the root of the information.
The news organization says that one of the sources revealed that Sony also plans to outline a strategy to use its networked entertainment services to share games, movies and music among handheld products, TVs and other devices.
This is just the latest drop in what has become a flood of leaks and rumors surrounding a new Sony handheld gaming device — or possibly two new devices.
As I recently reported, several video game analysts believe it's likely Sony will reveal some kind of smart phone/PSP hybrid at the Mobile World Congress taking place in Spain from February 14 to 17, or perhaps during the Game Developers Conference, which takes place from Feb. 28 to March 4.
And prior to that, rumors circulated that Sony was working on a successor to the PSP with touch controls on the back.
According to Bloomberg's sources, Sony will reveal the PSP 2 at a press conference on Jan. 27th while the PSP phone will be shown at the Mobile World Congress. Game site VG247 also reported that sources gave it similar information.
No matter what form a new PSP comes in, Sony faces some steep competition. Not only has Apple's iPhones and iPads made big moves into the portable gaming space, Nintendo announced on Wednesday that it will launch its newest handheld game machine — the Nintendo 3DS — in America on March 27th. (It launches in Japan on Feb. 26th.) The device plays games in 3-D without requiring users to wear special glasses.
Sony last revamped the PlayStation Portable in 2009 when it launched the PSPgo. The PSPgo — which ditched the PSP's game disc drive and moved to a purely digital format for downloaded games — has seen poor sales.
The PSP was first introduced in Japan in 2004 and launched in the U.S. in 2005. Since then Sony has sold 18.5 million of the devices in the U.S. Meanwhile, Nintendo's DS line of portable game devices have sold 47.4 million, according to research organization NPD Group.
I recently talked with John Koller, director of hardware marking for Sony Computer Entertainment America, and asked him about the rumored PSP phone and PSP 2. His response: "I can't talk about anything in the future. But I can tell you the PSP will be part of our line-up for the foreseeable future."
He pointed out that Sony made its mark in handheld gaming by creating the PSP to be a compact-yet-powerful machine for playing bigger console-like games (titles like last year's epic "God of War: Ghost of Sparta" and "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker"). And while the iPhone may be making its mark with smaller games and Nintendo is making its mark with 3-D games, he said Sony would continue to make its mark by focusing on bigger games.
"We think Nintendo placed a bet (with 3-D) to left turn away from where maybe the iPhone is to differentiate themselves," he said. "That was their choice. We think there's a better opportunity for us with these larger games."