I agree. They have to act now.
Streaming and mobile gaming will soon eat into PlayStation’s market share (more than they already have). Expanding Orbis OS to run on not only PS4 but also phones and TVs would be a solid starting point. And honestly, Sony has nothing to lose by leaving Android (both their phone and TV market shares are diminishing and their product portfolio a mess).
Of course their services (PS Now, PS Vue, PS Video, and PS Music) would have to be deeply integrated in the OS as this would give them an upper hand in the battle to offer a connected experience across all devices (if you pause a game on your phone, you’ll be able to continue on your PS4 or TV when returning home).
Mobile gaming is now challenging console gaming directly in that it offers an experience close to the one offered by home consoles. As the leader of console gaming, Sony will have a clear advantage bringing the PlayStation brand, store, content, and maybe even controls to mobiles.
They have a huge challenge though. Smartphone owners won’t buy a phone unless it grants them access to all of their favorite apps and not even Microsoft (with its deep pockets) managed to get developers put out versions of their apps on Windows Phone.
I agree that getting apps is going to be a monumental task, but I think they can learn from Microsofts, and their own mistakes in Mobile. They have to make sure that it is truly one Sony OS, and one ecosystem. It has to be effortless for developers to support the entire ecosystem. If they make every device, and every business unit work towards a common goal, they can have a lengthy ramp up cycle to success.
The biggest problem with Xperia and Windows Phones, is their complete lack of connection to each companies most vital assets. Xperia is on a completely different planet, and has no access to PlayStation. Microsoft tried to build Windows Phones from scratch, with no connection to Windows or Xbox. Both companies are failing in Mobile, because their business startagies are/were complete trash.
Micorosft is setting themselves up very nicely now, with Windows being built to scale from weak phones to monster PCs. They will be in good shape when they re-enter the mobile space. Sony just needs to continue to expand the scalability of its PlayStation assets.
I have no doubt they can split the difference between Vita and PSP, and bring in about 50 Million consumers with a PS Phone, even with a limited app selection, as long as they have the absolute basics. As long as they have a shared architecture between all of their devices, development and support will be very cheap, and they will be very profitable at low volume. Reaching PSP numbers or above, will be were they really have to go after, and be open to more apps.
So... how is that going to work?
Sony releases a normal sized smartphone (called Sony Phone) and a bigger version (called Sony Phone Pro) and ditches the small model?
Then they doesn't update the Sony Phone and Sony Phone Pro for years while Samsung and Apple offer improved models every year? Or will they improve the two models every year and sell them with the same name, leading to customer confusion (is this the 2019 model or the 2020 model or the new 2021 model?)
Honestly, I think Sony needs to go to one Phone until they get some momentum. Make PlayStation Phone, and support it with full force. They don't need to try and sell 200 million phones a year. If they can sell 10 million PlayStation Phones a year, they will be doing very well. The have carved out their own space in the home computer market with PlayStation Consoles, now they need to do the same in the mobile market with PlayStation Phones.
I would follow the same business model they have with PS4 in the Phone market. Base PS Phone, minor revisions each year, PS Phone 1000 year 1, PS Phone 1100 year 2, PS Phone 1200 year 3. Then year 4, PS Phone Slim 2000 has a smaller redesign and cheaper price with major marketing push to reach a broader range of customer, while PS Phone Pro 7000 is launched at the high end users. Then it continues PS Phone Slim 2100 and PS Phone Pro 7100, PS Phone Slim 2200 and PS Phone Pro 7200, and so on until they release PS Phone 2.
Just like with the Home consoles, the XX00 model number would not be advertised, but the core userbase would know the differences. They would only list the PS Phone on the website, just as they only advertise PS4 and PS4 Pro, and don't break down PS4 1000, PS4 1100, PS4 1200, etc., just make it simple. Like I said, the core users will know the differences between each minor revision, and there will be some that upgrade more often than others. Your more casual PS Phone users will buy whatever is on the shelf, and they will use it for many years, until it either breaks, or there is a significant enough upgrade or redesign, that they feel justified to upgrade.
If Sony is doing it right, there phones will be so tailored to their target demographic, that their users would have no interest in what Samsung and Apple are doing anyways. Just like PlayStation Home consoles are only a tiny fraction of Home PC sales, PlayStation Phone can be a tiny fraction of Mobile sales, and still be able to rake in billionsin profits. If they are dedicated to their 50 to 100 Million users, the users will be dedicated to them.