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 processor.
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.