Sony unveils PSP with video calling


LONDON -- Britain's BT Group Plc. and Japan's Sony Corp. have unveiled new software that will allow millions of gamers using portable PlayStations to make video and voice calls and send instant messaging.

Britain's top fixed-line carrier and the Japanese electronics and media group said on Wednesday the Go!Messenger wireless software for Sony's PlayStation Portable handheld game player was set for commercial launch in January 2008.

In a battle for supremacy against Japanese rival Nintendo's hot-selling DS rival game player, Sony and BT said the software allowed PSP gamers to keep in touch by connecting to any broadband wireless Internet point at home or out and about using VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) Internet telephony.

"By offering a variety of communications options to help stay in touch with other gamers, Go!Messenger truly brings the entertainment potential of PSP to life," said Steve Andrews, head of mobility and convergence at BT.

As Sony's lead wireless partner, BT said it would initially promote the software, which was developed in its research center, in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy before extending its reach to over 100 countries across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

It also plans to allow regional wireless Internet providers and manufacturers to buy the service wholesale and sell it on under other brands.

BT and Sony, which has shipped 24 million PSPs globally since launching the device in December 2004, signed a four-year deal in May.

BT is battling to transform itself from a hardware-based fixed-line telecoms provider into a software-based supplier of telecoms and entertainment applications.

It has invested around 10 billion pounds ($19.83 billion) into its so-called 21 Century Network telecoms infrastructure, which provides quality voice and video calls at cheaper costs over the Internet.