Sony confirms next gen portable gaming by Christmas

Following in the footsteps of Nintendo’s 3DS, probably, Sony has announced that it will be showing off its own next-gen portable device in 2011. It is code named, imaginatively, “Next Generation Portable”.

Taking a cue from the rise in iOS games and the incredible wide-reaching popularity of Nintendo’s portable, the device will have a five inch LED touch screen display. There will be front and rear touch panels, according to Nikkei (subscription), and 3G connectivity – we guess for crap and casual mobile internet, probably not for gaming. Pricing has not been announced but Sony hopes to put out the product by Christmas.

Speaking as a first generation PSP owner, following its debut the most appealing feature wasn’t intentional and it certainly wasn’t the games at launch. It was the lively homebrewing scene which saw emulator ports to NES games etc., and a tide of fun customisation options: live radio, digital radio, better browsers and the rest of it. Sony wasn’t a fan and quickly tried to step past the homebrew community with frequent Firmware updates but fortunately developers were ready to keep one step ahead.

Its next generation portable console may well have plenty to offer against, for example, the 3DS. But since the Gameboy, with the exception of the doomed Virtual Boy, Nintendo has been the leader in portable gaming, trouncing its competition from Neo Geo and Sega to name a few. Now it has real competition from the mobile space, where the iPhone is doing what the nGage was never close to. The rise of casual, portable gaming in an all-in-one device has changed the landscape, and with LG and Nvidia’s Optimus X on the way it will need to pull off something remarkable to make its next console work.

It has taken the mobile trend to mind, announcing Playstation Suite – an application for the Android market which promises to deliver PSX-era-esque games, available later in the year. If Sony handles this right, and ports popular Playstation games to mobile as it has done with the PSP, there’s a strong chance it is onto a winner with Android.