Playstation Phone: the rumor that won't die

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Earlier this week I posted about a possible Playstation Phone as leaked by Engadget. Usually a rumor like this will pop up then fade away for a while until some new nugget of information comes to light. But not this time. The original Engadget post garnered a lot of attention with reactions all over the place, from "Wow, I want this." to "This is obviously a photoshop and here's why." Gaming blog NowGamer claimed to contact Sony Europe who first told them the images were fakes, but then changed their tune to the more typical "We do not comment on rumor and speculation."

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Engadget stood firm on this one, following up their first post with a second, titled The PlayStation Phone is still real which emphasized the leak had been confirmed by multiple, trusted sources and offered a code name: Zeus. But they weren't done yet, following with a third post talking about Z-System which is both a domain owned by Sony Ericsson and a tag that shows up in the top left corner of the leaked device's screen. Engadget speculates that Z-System is the name of the operating system for the phone/gaming device. So yeah, Engadget really wants us to believe they have a bona fide scoop on their hands. But then things got really interesting when CNN had a 'Fireside Chat' with Sony's senior vice president of marketing Peter Dille. Dille stuck to the "no comment" stance, technically, but he talked all around a Playstation Phone, mentioning that one of the weaknesses of the Playstation Portable is its lack of 3G connectivity. He further said that the goal for the Playstation Network is to be an entertainment centerpiece and be always accessible and that the PSP can't fulfill that goal. Whether or not Engadget's leaked Playstation Phone is real (and at this point I think it is) it seems pretty clear that Sony's next handheld will have 3G connectivity. Whether that means a kind of small-format gaming tablet (with 3G data) or a full-on phone that also plays games is yet to be seen. And if the Playstation Phone is real, then what happens to the PSP2 with its strange rear-touchscreen (which we talked about back in August), which has also been the topic of leaks and rumors this week. (See Kotaku's PSP2 Will Ditch the UMD, May Rival Xbox 360 In Horsepower from yesterday.) Can Sony really be planning two new handheld systems in 2011? And if so, will they have separate ecosystems? It seems likely, since the PSP2 (assuming the rumors are correct) will be a real powerhouse and it doesn't seem feasible to get that kind of power out of a device that'll run all day on a battery charge (a basic need for anything that's going to take on a cell phone role). All we have are questions today, and it seems likely we won't get any concrete answers until sometime in 2011. I didn't think the Playstation Phone would be of much interest but a straw poll taken among gaming friends suggest I'm wrong. The people I know enjoy gaming on their phones enough that they'd be interested in a phone with hardware gaming controls. Maybe Sony is on to something.

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