Sony's Hirai on the challenges of differentiating a PlayStation Phone and PSP 2

Based on the rumors circulating on this here internet, Sony supposedly intends to release two handheld devices in 2011: the PlayStation Phone and the PSP2. Although both are multi-function gaming devices, the two seem to be taking very different approaches, which have many confused about the direction Sony intends on going. Even PlayStation's Kazuo Hirai admits this is a challenge, telling the New York Times that ''we don't want gamers to be asking, what's the difference between that and a PSP ... We have to come up with a message that users will understand." Of course, "that" being the rumored PlayStation Phone (Xperia Play?). While Hirai didn't offer an official confirmation of its existence, he did add that "it would have to be a product that keeps the PlayStation's strengths intact."

The chat also touched upon the successor to the PSP, and Hirai's candid comments seem to give light to what Sony has planned for its next-generation device. Most importantly, and unsurprisingly, it seems a touch mechanic will be implemented with Hirai admitting that "there are [games] where you can play perfectly well with a touch panel. But you can definitely play immersive games better with physical buttons and pads. I think there could be games where you're able to use both in combination.''

Earlier rumors suggested that PSP2 would feature some kind of touch-based "trackpad," and Hirai's comments seem to further cement that possibility. Could the next system really offer "early PS3 graphics"? And if so, what will the slogan be? "It Only Does Everything on the Go ... Except Make Calls, Which is What the PlayStation Phone Does Instead"?

This article was originally published on Joystiq.