First PlayStation phone not hit by data breach

HELSINKI Thu May 5, 2011 1:41pm EDT

A Sony-Ericsson Xperia Play is displayed at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 14, 2011. REUTERS/Albert Gea

A Sony-Ericsson Xperia Play is displayed at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Albert Gea

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - The first PlayStation phone, Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play, is not affected by the massive data breach of PlayStation user accounts, the phone maker said on Thursday.

Late in April Sony Corp warned that hackers had stolen names, addresses and possibly credit card details from almost 80 million users of its PlayStation online network, in one of the largest ever Internet security breaches.

A Sony Ericsson spokesman said the problems were not affecting the handset maker -- a 50:50 venture between Sony and Ericsson -- which in March started to sell Xperia Play, the first PlayStation phone.

"Sony and Sony Ericsson data reside on different servers," the spokesman said.

PlayStation Suite, the mobile arm of PlayStation network, is set to be opened later this year.

"Sony's PlayStation fiasco will be both an opportunity and a threat for Sony Ericsson's Xperia Play. It is a threat because a wave of negative headlines is tarnishing the valuable PlayStation brand," said analyst Neil Mawston from Strategy Analytics.

"But it is also an opportunity to upgrade further the back-end security of PlayStation Suite over the next few months and to make sure the new service launches with improved security for financial transactions and the like," Mawston said.

Other analysts said the impact on Sony Ericsson and Xperia Play would be limited.

"I think its impact in the near term is minimal, but it's undoubtedly unwelcome negative publicity just as they're starting to take PlayStation to new devices," said Geoff Blaber from CCS Insight.

2 NEW SMARTPHONES, FACEBOOK LINK

Separately, Sony Ericsson unveiled on Thursday two new smartphone models, Xperia mini and Xperia mini pro, to widen its offering.

The venture reported a profit in the first quarter only due to a one-off boost from higher-than-usual royalty payments as its aging smartphone offering started to lose appeal.

It has started to sell a few new models, including the Xperia Play, and the two models unveiled on Thursday will further strengthen the portfolio from next quarter.

Sony Ericsson also unveiled a new tighter integration of its smartphones to Facebook, better linking areas of the phone such as the picture gallery, music player, phonebook and calendar to the social network.

"The integration with Facebook across the Xperia portfolio is another good example of the differentiation they need to add value to their devices," said IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo.

(Editing by Will Waterman)

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