BT and Sony have inked a four year deal that will see the two companies bring voice calls, video conferencing, and IM functionality to PlayStationPortable (PSP) users across Europe. The partnership intends to integrate the PSP with BT’s existing broadband video and voice ‘softphone’ products, and in the following months, additional features will be launched to enable calls and messages to PCs, fixed lines and mobiles. The service will initially roll-out in the UK, with other parts of European to follow.
In a joint press release, Steve Andrews, BT chief, Mobility and Convergence, is quoted as saying:
“The PSP is an excellent device for both gaming and communications, because of its high quality screen and audio capabilities. With over 8 million PSPs shipped across Europe, we are very excited by the opportunity to give customers a whole new communications experience, connecting and seeing friends across the world through BT’s technology”.
It’s certainly true that Sony’s hand held game console has a very nice screen and good audio, but I can see a couple of issues holding it back from being a really useful communications device. Instant Messaging will be a pain, as there is no touch screen or physical keyboard. Additionally, the machine will have to connect over WiFi, and in the UK at least, we are far from free or low cost ubiquitous WiFi access, and I don’t think the PSP’s younger users are going to have the spending power to hang out at Starbucks all day long — making it OK for use around the home, but not really viable as a mobile communications device.
Update: The BBC has more details, including a video demonstrating the snap-on video camera for video calls. Also of note, the new PSP functionality will only work on home or BT wireless hotspots because it utilises BT’s 21 Century Network (21CN), which is specifically designed for Internet Protocol (IP) technology such as VoIP.