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Sony doubles down on portable gaming, introduces NGP and games for Android

January 27, 2011 | 11:20 am

Sony unveiled its newest portable gaming console, code-named NGP, Wednesday night in Tokyo, as the consumer electronics giant attempts to loosen Nintendo's iron grip on the market.

Sony PlayStation NGP The NGP, a temporary name that stands for next-generation portable, is a remake of the PlayStation Portable, which has been on the market since December 2004. While Sony has sold more than 62 million PSPs since, the device has trailed far behind Nintendo's DS, which has sold 144.6 million since November 2004.

The device, scheduled to be released late this year for the Christmas shopping season, is expected to have a 5-inch, multitouch, organic LED display with roughly four times the resolution of the current PSP. It will also boast the graphics capability of its larger sibling, the PlayStation 3 living room console. Equipped with two cameras, front and rear-facing, the device will also have an accelerometer to sense motion, much like the iPhone.

One key feature is its ability to connect to the Internet via 3G and Wi-Fi, as well as its GPS connection, for location-based applications. Such capabilities would potentially allow users to make calls, though Sony made no mention of it being used as a phone.

Among the titles expected to be released alongside the device later this year are Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty and Sony's Killzone, Uncharted, and LittleBigPlanet.

While Sony did not announce a price, many analysts expect it to sell for $299 or higher, potentially putting it above the reach of mainstream consumers. The PlayStation 3 currently sells for $300.

Analysts remain skeptical of Sony's chances for dethroning Nintendo, which is set to release its newest portable device, the 3DS, on March 27 for $250.

"It remains unclear whether there is mass market potential for high-end portable games," wrote Colin Sebastian, analyst with Lazard Capital Markets in a note to investors. "We note that Sony’s PSP did not meet initial sales expectations despite offering the highest quality graphics on a portable device at that time."

Nintendo itself is struggling with losing momentum for both its once-hot Wii game console, as well as slowing sales for its current portable console, the DSi. The Japanese game company on Thursday lowered the number of DS consoles it expected to sell its fiscal year ending March 31, to 22.5 million, down from 23.5 million predicted earlier.

Meanwhile, Sony said it would begin selling PlayStation One titles on Google's Android marketplace, leveraging the operating system's popularity to sell its catalog of games. The move would help round out Android's game offerings, which have been relatively sparse compared with Apple's iPhone App store.

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Sony putting 3-D on laptops and photo and video cameras; no tablet yet

-- Alex Pham

twitter.com/AlexPham

Image: Sony's next portable game console, code-named the NGP. Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment.

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