At the turn of the 2010s, the smartphone market was just beginning to spike and enter an incredibly successful phase in its development. By 2013, the market was worth more than $300 billion, and it hit $522 billion in 2018. Sony was right to try to get in the game with its Xperia Play in 2011, which was designed to be a smartphone with dedicated gaming elements.
The problem was, users weren’t ready for this offering at the time, and the industry headed in a different direction. Sony has continued to produce phones but has never been able to compete with the powerhouses of Apple and Samsung. 10 years on, will Sony learn from recent trends and improve its offering so it’s more in line with today’s multifaceted devices?
Was the Xperia Play Released Before its Time?
The concept of the Xperia Play from Sony Ericsson was that it would mainly exist as a gaming device with elements of a smartphone. It was initially known as the PlayStation Phone, but Sony opted to steer away from this branding and decided to go with Xperia. The device had a slide function that enabled the screen to move away from another level underneath, revealing the classic PlayStation controls. It was released alongside the PlayStation Vita, which was designed to look like a mobile but was primarily a gaming device.
Sony had hoped to tap into the growing mobile games market which was seeing a vast increase in cheap downloadable apps at the time. The company wanted to get some of its PlayStation Portable titles onto the device, and touted offerings like God of War and LittleBigPlanet in its marketing.
However, it may have been ahead of its time because more complex games like this were not ubiquitous on the smartphones of the era. Also, when players were able to use their PlayStation consoles and the PSP or PS Vita for such games, it was hard to see where the Xperia Play fit in. After failing to take off as a dedicated gaming phone, the Xperia range is now marketed as a budget device.
Modern Smartphones Cover all the Bases
It quickly emerged that the modern smartphone user wanted the device for so much more than just gaming, and there doesn’t seem to be a place for a phone that is solely geared towards gaming in 2021. Indeed, it could be argued that smartphones have become versatile tools for everyday life, and their advanced technology makes them capable of performing the same functions as a personal computer in the user’s pocket.
Rather than simply use smartphones for gaming, they have become a one-stop shop for all things entertainment. They are hubs for movies and television shows on streaming services, with Netflix notably piggybacking on the rise of mobile in its quest for world dominance. Music streaming has also flourished, with Spotify also rising to the top alongside the spread of smartphones.
Some strains of the gaming industry have enjoyed more success than others on mobile. Console-style games have taken a while to take off because of the advanced processing power needed to run them. Simpler, pick-up-and-play-style offerings have been much more prosperous. Puzzle and casino games have been the two most played genres on mobile for some time due to their simplicity and ease of access.
Casino operators have realised how many players are logging on through mobile, and now integrate their payment systems to cater for this clientele. In fact, the list of casinos where you can pay by phone bill is increasing, and these sites also come with lucrative offers. These include free spins and deposit matches to entice players in.
Sony Could Compete at the Top With the Sony Xperia PRO-I
It’s clear that Sony was wrong about the direction that smartphones were heading in when it released the Xperia Play. It should have considered the fact that mobiles could become fully functioning entertainment hubs rather than solely gaming devices.
It seems that the Japanese company could have learnt from the popularity of the major brands, and it may be preparing to take on Samsung and Apple with its new offering, the Sony Xperia PRO-I. This will be the flagship of the Xperia series, and it is a much more well-rounded smartphone that acts as a pocket computer rather than a gaming phone.
Sony made a misstep with the Xperia Play in thinking that users would want smartphones solely for gaming. The company realised its mistake and has watched the rise of smartphones that act as complete entertainment hubs. Now, it could get back in at the top of the market with its Xperia PRO-I, which looks like a stunning offering that can do it all.
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