Sony – despite a momentary off-message flap saying the images were fake – has remained tight-lipped about their veracity.
Until now, that is.
The CEO of Sony Ericsson – Sony’s joint venture in mobile phones – has said "There’s a lot of smoke, and I tell you there must be a fire somewhere," in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, alluding to the leaked images’ authenticity.
He added: "Sony has an extremely strong offering in the gaming market, and that’s very interesting."
However, other sources the WSJ spoke to say the device won’t actually be PlayStation-branded, instead be part of Sony Ericsson’s range of Xper smartphones.
It will, however, run Google’s iPhone-rivalling Android 3.0 OS, as expected.
Sony and Sony Ericsson have seen Apple’s iPhone and Android devices happily eat into their share of both portable gaming and mobile platform markets.
But Sony Ericsson CEO Bert Nordberg reckons that the current wave of smartphones isn’t "optimized for games" – paving the way for his firm to introduce a device that is.
Certainly, games are a key way to stand out in the busy phone market, he said – "Gaming, including content, is a very interesting proposition."
Confusingly, the WSJ adds that the games-phone device’s biggest challenge is that ‘the company has to consult many lawyers to negotiate rights issues with game publishers’, which we can only conclude is a particularly clunky reference to either setting up format licensing deals for the new platform or arranging for older PSP games to be available for the device.
Said Nordberg of working with publishers: "I’m very glad that we work with a company like Sony, who actually knows how to do it."
However it works, it seems the PSPhone/Xper gaming device will be announced properly at the Mobile World Congress – the mobile world’s E3 equivalent – in Barcelona next year.
Nordberg said he has a device to announce there that will a lot of ‘noise’ at its unveiling.
Meanwhile, it’s still believed Sony’s PlayStation division is working on the ‘PSP 2’ – leaked pictures of that rolled out last week.
(Image credit: Engadget. That dummy date of February couldn’t have been more prescient.)