Sony Ericsson will release more gaming devices like its Android-based Xperia Play smartphone, and the company plans to merge more tightly than ever with Sony hardware and content as Sony takes over complete control of the venture, according to a top Sony Ericsson executive.
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In an interview with the blog Boy Genius Report, Paul Hamnett, president of Sony Ericsson's North American operations, said the company is not going to let the Xperia Play, its flagship U.S. device, be a one-off product. "What we don't want it to be just one phone that we tried in a gaming franchise," he said. "You'll see further iterations of it going forward, and you'll also see PlayStation certification on most of our smartphones going forward as well, because we want to provide the best gaming experience."
Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) launched the Xperia Play earlier this year, and regional player C Spire Wireless just launched the gaming-focused device, which has joystick controls, for $49.99 after a $50 reward card and a two-year contract. Hamnett said the device is Sony Ericsson's "best-ranged" handset in the United States ever, and that sales have been strong.
Nokia attempted a similar tack with its now-failed N-Gage mobile phone/video gaming device and content offering.
Hamnett also talked about the forthcoming integration of Sony Ericsson into Sony proper. Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) confirmed in late October that Sony will buy its 50 percent stake in the joint venture for around $1.47 billion, and that Sony Ericsson will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony. Hamnett said Sony and Sony Ericsson will work together on leveraging a four-screen entertainment and computing environment, taking advantage of Sony's position in TVs, computers and now tablets, as well as smartphones.
The Sony Ericsson executive said the company will use Sony's cameras, gaming knowledge and screen technology in all of its mobile devices. "It's something we're going to build on dramatically going forward," he said. While he was short on details, he also said Sony Ericsson will leverage Sony's movie and music libraries to bring entertainment content to more mobile devices, and that consumers will start to see this transition at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
"I think the announcement of Sony buying Ericsson's share of our business is slightly too fresh for it to be the real kickoff, but you will see by CES already signs of how this integrated business can excite consumers," he said. "And that's going to improve I think throughout the year."
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