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Sony is planning to announce a new PlayStation Portable handheld game player on Jan. 27 and will follow that up with a game-capable smartphone in February,  according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, citing confidential sources.

It’s certainly about time. Sony has taken a beating in the handheld market lately. Nintendo’s DS has outsold the PlayStation Portable by 2-to-1. A new PSP Go device launched in 2009 has failed miserably. Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch, and other smartphones have eaten away at the game-playing audience. That’s because gamers can enjoy sophisticated game apps for free or much cheaper prices than games on Sony’s devices.

Sony’s goal is to network its devices with a variety of other devices, so that users can share games, movies, and music across a bunch of handhelds, TVs, and other devices. Meanwhile, the Sony Ericsson touchscreen smartphone (leaked picture, right) will be shown off at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. That will be just before Nintendo launches its 3DS handheld, which has glasses-free stereoscopic gaming, in March.

The PSP was originally introduced in 2004 as the “Walkman of the 21st century” by then-PlayStation chief Ken Kutaragi. One of the big flaws was that Sony used a proprietary storage format, the universal media disk, which users didn’t embrace. The PSP Go got rid of that, enabling users to download games to a PlayStation 3 and then transfer them to a PSP Go. Sony is also debuting a cloud-based music service dubbed Music Unlimited. Users can log in, pay for entertainment, and then use that content across devices. It’s not clear when the Sony devices will be on the market.


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