Sony’s PlayStation Phone strategy takes shape as prototype picture leaks out

Back in August, rumors of a PlayStation Phone leaked out. Now the Engadget tech blog has a photo of the device and some of its specifications.

If Sony is really going to build the device, it will mean an all-out war between Apple, Microsoft, and Sony in the category of the gaming smartphone. Others will join battle too, but the PlayStation Phone seems to be a reaction to the very real threat that Apple is stealing gamers from devices such as Sony’s PlayStation Portable family.

The PlayStation Phone will likely feature Google’s Android 3.0 operating system (code-named Gingerbread). It will also have:

* A Sony marketplace for purchasing and downloading games designed for the platform
* A 1-gigahertz Qualcomm MSM8655 processor, similar to the one found in T-Mobile’s G2 but faster
* 512 megabytes of main memory
* A gigabyte of read-only memory
* A screen that ranges from 3.7 inches to 4.1 inches diagonal
* A touchpad in the center of the device that is evidently a multitouch pad
* The shoulder buttons that the PSP devices have.

Engadget says the device is in prototype form and does not have a custom skin. If the hardware is that unformed, it probably means the launch won’t happen until 2011. That’s not great news for Sony, as Apple is now selling its mobile devices in the tens of millions each quarter. Meanwhile, Microsoft is launching a bunch of Xbox Live gaming smartphones with its partners on Windows Phone 7, where the core selling feature is the ability to tune into your Xbox Live online gaming account.

We hope this prototype rumor is true, since Sony really needs to get competitive. The PSPgo was too expensive and has had weak sales. Sony recently dropped the price, but that non-phone gaming gadget isn’t selling well. And Sony has to come up with some kind of credible response to Nintendo’s upcoming 3DS handheld device.