The Sony Playstation Phone

For those not in the know, there are rumours of a Sony Playstation Phone (PP). Why should anybody who doesn’t already give damn give a damn? Because Sony is one of the few companies that can compete successfully against Apple/Disney, and the Playstation-Phone vs. iPhone could be a proxy war.*

Sony hasn’t been doing well in general and I will therefore dispense some advice to them that I hope they are already following. If not, pay heed (then pay me).

1-Make a Playstation-phone, not a playstation-Phone.

Engagdet/Mashable mentioned that Sony-Ericsson will be building the PP, and they may have to market it through normal phone distribution channels e.g carriers and discounts etc. This is fine provided everyone involved remembers that this is a “Playstation-first-phone-second” that they are making and they plan accordingly. Thinking otherwise expresses a flaw that could be costly.


What makes this phone unique from every other phone getting its ass kicked by the iPhone is that it is also a Playstation. Non-playstation players, who will be turned off by the playstation controls at first, will not be PP’s core/target market. Sony will therefore have to appeal to Playstation (PS) and Playstation Portable (PSP) users to gain initial traction and address muggles as secondary and tertiary markets.

Think of it this way. I have two younger brothers who surf the internet on their PS3, and one of them owns a PSP. My dad is slowly getting over typing one-finger-at-a-time and although my mom is technologically savvy, they couldn’t figure out how to watch a dvd on the PS3 when my brothers were away. I did a small survey to see who would be interested and why. Guess their responses.

Core/Primary market [would get PP as their next phone]-my brothers (they already use two products in the same product Family)

Secondary market [maybe, down the line]-me/my mom.

Tertiary market [Anything with the name Playstation is a waste of time]-my dad

In order to cater to the core market, Sony needs to build a PP that is at least a decent playstation if it does not improve on the experience that a current PSP gives. If Sony waters down its playstation abilities for the sake of appealing to a broader audience, it will fall flat on its face: neither my parents nor I would buy it at first because the Playstation isn’t a drawing factor; and the PS fans may not see a reason to dilute their experience.

Advice: Focus on the Playstation experience, treat the PP as a playstation, market it as one that presents an improvement on their PSP experience, an upgrade if you will, and focus on getting it into the hands of PS and PSP users.

2-Ditch Sony-Ericsson

Some time ago, Sony decided that its core competency was not making phones. It partnered with phone maker Ericsson to make Sony-Ericsson that would make phones on its behalf. Part of the reason why the PP is still a rumour is that Sony is not legally allowed to make a [competing] phone-like product (as part of the rules of forming Sony-Ericsson).

But now for the reality:

  1. Part of the reason why Sony should enter the mobile space is to show itself as forward thinking player, not a dead giant.*
  2. This Playstation phone is a Playstation first and phone second; and it should be marketed primarily at Playstation users who are in Sony’s realm of expertise, not Sony-Ericsson’s. Furthermore, I posit that Playstation has more users/fans than Sony-Ericsson, and Playstation’s users are more loyal.
  3. The Playstation brand is one of the few things Sony got right and it’s not going to lightly bestow that brand on anything else; hence why in 2009 Sony refused to let Sony-Ericsson run with the Playstation brand.
  4. Sony-Ericsson makes shitty phones, based on my biased sample size of 2 shitty Sony-Ericsson phones. Some may take issue with my very low sample size, but consumers don’t make scientific buying decisions based on n=300,000. I will buy one, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll go for another brand that does.

Based on the above information, Sony may keep its relationship with Sony-Ericsson and may even use their phone technology if it’s fitting. But they should brand the PP as their own product and market it to their base of customers. If Sony-Ericsson doesn’t like it, too bad. Start making stuff that works.

Therefore, play to your strengths. Brand this as a Sony Playstation-phone (made in conjuntion with Sony-Ericsson). Make it a really nifty playstation that can also place phone calls. Basically, make your core audience love it, then use them to appeal to others. Where many are gathered, more will follow.

*Sentences bearing an asterisk such as why Sony should enter the mobile space or how it competes with Apple/Disney will be discussed in a later posts.


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