Vodafone seeks Sony help with mobile gaming

Got to find something they can use to sell 3G cellphone networks

Vodafone and Sony today unveiled a plan to work together to bring PlayStation games to mobile phones.

The two companies' avowed intent to "extending the PlayStation experience into the Vodafone mobile-phone environment" will grab all the headlines, but for now the alliance is rather more mundane. Essentially, it's about providing game hints via SMS and WAP, and console-to-console networking via Vodafone's network.

Sony's had its eye on that for some time - its reworked PlayStation, the PS One, was designed with cellphone-connected networking in mind. And the Vodafone deal mirrors one signed with NTT DoCoMo a week or so back. DoCoMo and Sony will work to enable multi-player gaming across the Japanese comms company's cellular network.

Both DoCoMo and Vodafone - and, indeed, all the cellular networks - are desperately trying to find ways to attract punters to their third-generation networks as and when they're rolled out, primarily to help recoup the billions the networks forked out for 3G licences. Online gaming is seen as one of the killer apps that will bring subscribers in.

Hence Vodafone commercial MD Paul Donovan's claim that today's deal is "the first building-block towards a very exciting, long-term partnership... that we believe will help develop our wireless gaming strategy".

It should help develop Sony's strategy to dominate digital home entertainment too. Third-generation cellular links are just one of the many pipes through which Sony can pump digital movies, music and games, and provide gateways for other companies' content. ®

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