Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) has the iPhone. Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) has the BlackBerry. Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) has the Pre. Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) has the N-series. Even Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) wants in on the smartphone market. Is there really room for another competitor?
Sony (NYSE: SNE ) apparently thinks so. Japan's Nikkei Business Daily reported over the weekend that the electronics maker was planning a cellphone/game console hybrid. News.com later reported that Sony wants to make its popular PSP handheld the basis of a new smartphone.
At least Sony isn't afraid to zig as others zag. Apple has done well by avoiding convergence, keeping the iPhone and iPod lines separate. As a result, the phone-free iPod Touch has grown into a popular platform for portable gaming. Sony should see that as a threat.
But is creating a PSP Phone the right response? Possibly. Apple may prefer distinct product lines, but there are other areas in which entertainment devices are converging. Consider the Xbox 360, a game console that also plays and downloads movies.
Yet this may be a poor comparison. Smartphones aren't toys -- they're designed for serious business. Even the iPhone, originally assailed as a high-priced toy, is winning corporate customers. An estimated 12% who bought the new iPhone 3G S switched from the business-user-friendly Blackberry.
A PSP Phone may not need to attract business adopters, especially if teens with disposable income like the gadget. But that means convincing them Sony is as cool a supplier as Apple and Nokia, among others.
Good luck with that, Sony.
Brrrrrring! It's related Foolishness calling: