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Sony Ericsson CEO Fuels Fire On PlayStation Smartphone

Bert Nordberg hints at partnership with Sony to launch a gaming-centric handset at the Mobile World Congress in February.

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Speculation is continuing to grow about a possible partnership between Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB and parent company Sony to create a PlayStation smartphone.

"There's a lot of smoke, and I tell you there must be a fire somewhere," Sony Ericsson chief executive officer Bert Nordberg told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. "Sony has an extremely strong offering in the gaming market, and that's very interesting."

The handset, which would have a slide-out controller for playing games, may be announced as early as next February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Already it is has been unofficially dubbed the PlayStation Phone, but is expected to be branded with Sony Ericsson's Xperia label. The device is likely to run either Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread or Android 3.0 HoneyComb.

While the company may release a Windows 7-based handset at some point, it isn't expected to be a top priority, given that Microsoft's gaming device, Xbox Live, competes with the Sony PlayStation. And Sony Ericsson has so far avoided leveraging the PlayStation gaming platform due to Sony's concerns that it could weaken the brand, The Wall Street Journal reported.

But the company is taking another look now since the availability of games on smartphones is becoming serious competition for dedicated gaming devices like Sony's PlayStation Portable. However, Nordberg reportedly said that the touchscreens on today's crop of smartphones aren't optimized for playing games. He told the Journal there wouldn't be any development issues in launching a gaming-centric smartphone; the greater challenge would be negotiating legal rights with game publishers, he said.

Sony Ericsson posted a profit earlier this year after several fiscal quarters of net losses, due to the successful releases of Android-powered smartphones and a restructuring of the business. Going forward, Nordberg said the Android platform will continue to be where Sony Ericsson focuses its efforts for at least another two years, the Journal reported. In order to gain an edge in the highly competitive smartphone market, Nordberg said there was no reason they shouldn't use the Sony brand, coupled with gaming and content.

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