Feb. 6, 2011 at 9:23 PM ET
Well, that was a surprise ... kinda.
Sony has finally ... at long long last ... confirmed what everyone already knew: that it has been hard at work on a game machine/smart phone love child. It's called the Xperia Play and it's an Android phone. Which, well, we also already knew.
Sony has kept its lips sealed tight despite months and months of PlayStation phone speculation, leaked photos and videos and even a hands-on test drive that outed many of the device's specs. It was during a Super Bowl advertisement on Sunday that Sony finally, officially, broke its silence, unveiling its forthcoming smart phone which comes complete with a slide-out gaming pad.
The advertisement was short on details about the phone. It showed the Android mascot coming to life a la Frankenstein, complete with human thumbs grafted to its cylindrical arms. The ad finished up with a brief video of the phone and its game pad, which has four PlayStation buttons, four directional buttons as well as a touch pad.
According to the Sony Ericsson Facebook page, this official Super Bowl revelation will be followed by an official official unveiling of the Xperia Play on February 13 — the day the Mobile World Congress in Spain begins. (Because just one official unveiling isn't enough.)
"Don't miss the next gamechanger from Sony Ericsson," the Facebook invitation says, asking social networkers to watch the phone's unwrapping on Facebook Feb. 13th at 10 p.m. PST.
More details about the phone are sure to be outlined at that time, though Engadget's own super sneaky preview of the device has already given us a pretty good run down of things.
One thing's for sure, the phone appears to be part of a multi-pronged attack by Sony on the mobile/handheld gaming market.
Two weeks ago, Sony officially unveiled the successor to its struggling PlayStation Portable game machine at a press conference in Japan. It's called the Next Generation Portable and it will feature 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, a 5-inch OLED touch-screen with four times the resolution of the current PSP screen, a touch pad on the backof the device as well as two analog sticks for in-depth game control.
During that same press conference, Sony also announced that it will be releasing the PlayStation Suite framework and will open a PlayStation Store to bring downloadable PlayStation games to Android smart phones and tablets.
With the NGP, the Xperia Play phone and this push to bring games to Android phones in general, Sony will be tackling competition not only from Nintendo's forthcoming handheld gaming gadget — the Nintendo 3DS — but competition from Apple's iPhone and iPad.
The iPhone and iPad have become powerful gaming contenders and Nintendo's 3DS — which plays games in 3-D without requiring users to wear glasses — is expected to make a big splash when it launches in March.
Certainly, with all of these devices duking it out for your on-the-go attention, it's safe to say that portable gaming is going to get real interesting in the coming months.
For more on Sony's mobile gaming plans, check out: