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Bloomberg: PlayStation Phone announcement coming at MWC

by Phil Hornshaw

We’re hearing new(ish) rumblings that Sony Ericcson (SNE) is planning to announce the Xperia Play, the highly leaked PlayStation Phone, at next month’s Mobile World Conference in Barcelona.

According to unnamed sources cited by Bloomberg, the phone is finally coming during the Feb. 14-17 conference. Prior to that, expect an announcement about a gaming device on Jan 27. That’s big news for the Android platform, because by all accounts, the Play is being designed to try to be an iPhone killer when it comes to gaming.

The Play has leaked all over the Internet in the last few weeks -- journalists were reportedly able to just walk into a store in China and buy one a few days ago, though it had no carrier support and didn’t do a whole lot. From what we’ve seen and heard, the phone will run Google’s Android 2.2 Froyo operating system and work like most other Android devices.

It has two powerful features that could make it a real contender in the gaming sphere, however -- its slide-down game pad (in place of a keyboard) and its PlayStation Pocket native app, which reportedly will play games from Sony’s original PlayStation console. We’re not sure what other games it can play, but expect some kind of downloadable game support capitalizing on the popularity of Sony’s consoles.

So good news, Android gamers. The Xperia Play announcement will hopefully trigger even more attention paid to the Android game market. Android phones have consistently held their own against the iPhone, but Google’s app marketplace, and specifically its games, can be difficult to track down for players.

Flash game website Kongregate offered a solution for about a day in the Android marketplace with a new app called Kongregate Arcade. It made available more than 300 games from Kongregate, but Google yanked it because it violated its marketplace terms -- apps aren’t allowed to distribute other apps.

But Kongregate has the right idea: Android needs an easier means of app discovery, and that’s one of the biggest strengths of the iPhone and iTunes. Being able to remove that advantage will open the door to more game developers (and standard app developers, too) wanting to push games for Google’s (GOOG) platform.

Hopefully, Sony Ericcson and Sony Computer Entertainment throw tons of support behind the Xperia Play. A real gaming-made phone with lots of options, PlayStation support and the ability to find and download new good games will encourage more developers to start designing for Android. That means more games, better games, indie games, and cheap games -- basically the situation we’re seeing in the iTunes App Store right now.

Sony has the ability to really make a big impression in the industry as to the gaming strength of Android as a platform, ahead of super-phones like the LG (066570.KS) Optimus 2x. And that could be really good for all of us who want to play more great games on Android.