Sony (NYSE: SNE) is tired of being the Jan Brady of consumer electronics, always taking the backseat to the prettier and more popular Marcia Brady that we warmly call Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sony will be rolling out a smartphone that plays PlayStation games and a larger portable device that serves as a netbook, e-reader, and PSP. In other words, Sony wants to compete against Apple's iPhone and iPad, respectively.

Sony seemed to have it all until a few years ago. The Sony Walkman once defined portable music consumption. Its PlayStation was once the undisputed champ among gaming consoles. Unfortunately, it seems as if all of its most recent forays are being trumped by somebody else.

Whether it's Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle outshining Sony's e-book reader or Apple and SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK) outgunning Sony when it comes to portable media devices, Sony keeps coming up short in its quest for new gold medals.

This doesn't mean that Sony will fail in its ambitious quest. However, it's hard to take a Sony smartphone seriously. Apple and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) have cornered the market domestically, with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) being too big a force globally. There may be diehard Sony gamers who would be drawn to the device, but it's unlikely to be anything more than a niche audience.

The catchall device may have better legs, since it's a market with no clear leader. It's easy to crown Apple as the champ by default, but the iPad still hasn't hit the market. If Sony is able to sacrifice its stand-alone e-book reader by offering a product that treats e-books as one of the many blades in a Swiss army knife -- like the iPad does -- then surely the company is going to be aggressive in promoting it.

The odds will still be long for Sony, but anything to get the taste of silver or bronze out of its mouth is worth trying.

Is it too late for Sony to enter any of these markets? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz will admit to still playing video games, though finding time is the rub. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.