Sony Vita will debut in US with film-music services

Sony said that its PlayStation Vita handheld entertainment gadgets will debut in the US market on February 22 with access to popular streaming film and television service Netflix.

Sony will also make its own Music Unlimited service available on Vita devices when they hit the United States. The Japan-based film, music and consumer electronics colossus has sold a half million Vita devices since it launched in Asia in December, executive deputy president Kazuo Hirai revealed on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Vita made its worldwide debut in Japan on December 17 and was released elsewhere in Asia close to the end of the month.

The next-generation PlayStation Vita aims to take a bite out of the growing smartphone games market. It features a five-inch (12-centimetre) LED touch screen, two cameras and a GPS receiver, and comes in Wi-Fi and 3G models. Nintendo's Game Boy, released in 1989, led the handheld game market until the mid-2000s, when Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) cut into its share.

But the emergence of iPhone and Android games is threatening the existence of game-specific handheld devices.
Game software ranging from "Angry Birds" and "Scrabble" to first-person shooters and car racing titles are consistently the popular "apps" for smartphones. Nintendo launched its 3DS portable game console about 10 months ago and quickly trimmed its price by about a third to $170 in a successful move to stimulate sales.

The PS Vita will be priced at $299 when it launches in the United States, where users of models with telecom network connectivity will be able to choose between two data plans sold by carrier AT&T. Sony sold a combined total of more than 6.5 million PlayStation videogame consoles and handheld entertainment devices during the year-end holiday shopping season, Hirai said.