3 Ways the Sony PlayStation Phone Can Succeed

Hot on the heels of a rumored Apple (APPL) acquisition, a picture of the long-rumored Sony (SNE) PlayStation phone has been leaked. There hasn't been a confirmation from the Japanese company, but we don't need one: Based on moves by rivals Apple, Nintendo (NTYDO) and Microsoft (MSFT), Sony now has no choice but to get into the game.

Here are the stats according to Engadget:

  • Winter 2010/2011 launch
  • Android 3.0 (codenamed Gingerbread)
  • Customized Sony Marketplace for downloading games
  • 1 GHz Qualcomm MSM8655
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 1 GB ROM
  • 4-inch screen (approximately)
  • MicroSD support
  • Thumbpad controller, touchpad mouse and four buttons
  • Hidden controller slide drawer a la the PSP Go
It is obviously a step beyond the somewhat generic Sony Ericsson phones the company has been delivering over the past decade. And, believe it or not, it can still carve out a market share in the modern market, assuming, as my BNet colleague Erik Sherman notes, Sony actually listens to what the consumers want. Here's how:

Create a premium brand at a premium price: Apple is interested in making their line of phones as simple and as cheap as possible. It also means that everyone has the same exact experience. There are no premium iPhones. The only thing a consumer can do is have more memory.

Sony has the opportunity to make a premium phone brand, something that connects well with the rest of the Sony universe, trusts the consumer to control their own environment, and makes the user feel like he or she is unique. Apple is now viewed as what Microsoft used to be, so both seem like the lesser of two evils. Sony can, in short, be the adult bad boy of the phone game.

Consumers would not be afraid to pay a little extra for that, either. In fact, they would expect to. It would be the same technique that eventually made the PlayStation 3, not to mention Vaio laptops and Bravia TVs, a success: A premium price for the most powerful, cutting edge technology available. Android 3.0 is already on board and Sony seems to be giving us more control without too much feature overload.

Go after the hardcore gamers: The same exclusivity, upper-echelon idea should apply to its apps. It may seem counterintuitive since the best selling mobile games right now are casual, pick-up-and-play titles like Angry Birds, but Sony needs to create its own mobile phone branding. Rivals Apple and Nintendo certainly have the casual audience locked down with their iPhone/iPod and DS lines, respectively. Only Microsoft is thinking of the hardcore, experienced gamer, offering titles like Halo -- but its Windows Phone 7 launch was surprisingly quiet.

Sony's catalog has as much cache as Microsoft's, and games like God of War and Uncharted could bring masses to the phone, many of which have been disillusioned by its confusing mobile gaming strategy.

Depend on an independent marketplace: The PlayStation phone's strongest asset may be its Sony Marketplace. By standing independent, Sony can better control what software comes aboard, the quality level of the apps and the overall marketing strategy of the store. Android is rapidly increasing its number of apps, but a large number are clones, bootlegs and/or of questionable stability. Sony's focus should be on creating a premium phone experience, which, frankly, is the opposite of what the average Android phone is delivering right now.

Photo courtesy of Ian Muttoo // CC 2.0