BARCELONA, SPAIN —
Sony Ericsson expanded its
Android smartphone selection with the intention of expanding
its U.S. market share, and it announced that
Verizon Wireless will carry its PlayStation-certified Android-
based game phone, the Xperia Play, in early spring.
The game phone will be Sony Ericsson’s first phone
for a U.S. CDMA carrier in years. The company left the
North American CDMA market in 2003.
Prices weren’t announced during the launch event
here at the Mobile World Congress.
Like the Xperia-series Arc announced at International
CES, the company’s three new Xperia-series Android
phones — the Play, Neo and Pro — use the latest Android
OS, called Honeycomb or 2.3. All three feature 1GHz
The Xperia Neo and Arc, which is the thinnest of the
four at 8.7mm at its thinnest part, will ship in global markets
in March. Versions banded for U.S. 800/1900MHz
HSPA networks have been developed. The Xperia Pro,
also planned for U.S. 850/1900MHz HSPA networks,
will be available globally at the end of Q2.
U.S. consumers will be able to enjoy the Neo, Arc, and
Play “in the next few weeks,” a spokesman said.
Although the Pro and Neo were promoted by brand
and strategy head Cathy Davies as “business-ready,” in
part because they feature Microsoft Exchange Active-
Sync, the Pro is especially optimized for business and
email, thanks to a slide-from-the-side keyboard, preloaded
Office Suite Pro to view and edit documents, and a
split email user interface that displays an inbox on one
side of the screen and previews emails on the other side.
All Xperia models are positioned “as the most entertaining
smartphones,” said executive VP Rikko Sakaguchi,
but the Play will be the first-ever smartphone with
PlayStation certification from Sony Computer Entertainment.
Certification is open to all phone makers.
The Play features slide-out PlayStation game controller
and ability to play select PlayStation titles as originally
designed. More than 50 PlayStation titles will be available
at launch for the Play from such companies as Electronic
Arts, Gameloft and Glu Mobile. Mobile-dedicated
games will be enhanced for the phone.
Initially, classic PlayStation games will be available for
download from Google’s Android Marketplace, and the
phone will ship with preloaded classic PlayStation titles,
but toward the end of the year, Sony Ericsson will launch
a PlayStation Network store to download richer games.