If there was no formal relationship to 'Playstation' it would not be allowed carry Playstation livery.
"Allowed"? That's a really bizarre word to apply here. It's not really
like Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Ericsson are two different companies. SE consistently utilizes various elements of other Sony brands in its phones, not to indicate that the product in question is perfectly aligned with whatever brand values that said name carries in other fields, but simply to create a unified "Sony" feel and branding experience for these products. (Whether that's a good idea or not is another question, but it's unquestionably something that SE does.) I'm sure that SE has never had to get any kind of top-to-bottom buy-in from the people who do portable music players at Sony before being "allowed" to use the Walkman brand, and similarly I'm sure the process to use the PS buttons was not particularly difficult even if SCE isn't really much involved in this device.
Really, just using the buttons is actually a pretty good way to only mildly leverage the brand strength here. If you're selling a gaming phone that isn't meant to really be part of your dedicated gaming business, you don't want to call it a "Playstation" since that both creates a specific (potentially inaccurate) idea of what the product is and
ties its success in closely with the rest of the family, potentially tainting other products by association if it fails. But you still want to make your phone attractive to the people you are
selling it to. Using the PS buttons is a good way to add a touch of positive familiarity, to make the device "feel" comfortable and like a "real" gaming device to the people who pick it up, without actually making it part of SCE's overall strategic direction.
You can't have a 'is it or isn't it' situation.
Sure you can. Make a phone with Playstation buttons. Don't call it a Playstation or put the Playstation brand on it. Bam, done. Pretty easy. :lol
I have my doubts SCE would launch two new completely unrelated mobile platforms within months of each other - that seems kind of incredible in the most literal sense.
Right, because your assumption is that Sony will be operating with maximal strategic efficiency here, and that's almost always a terrible assumption to make about big electronics companies or gaming companies. We have three gaming platform-holders right now, and all three of them have made multiple glaring, obvious mistakes in their platform management, all three of them at least occasionally creating problems for themselves by releasing sets of products that compete with one another or divide the market suboptimally. The only people who actually manage their product line with the ruthless efficiency needed to completely eliminate these redundancies and conflicts are Apple, and the fact that they can do that effectively is one of the huge competitive advantages that puts them on top of the heap.
Also, you're still assuming that the PSP2 is going to be a phone when we have basically no firm indication of that -- the rumors about it consistently position it as a traditional handheld gaming device intended to compete primarily with the 3DS. If this Xperia thing is a phone but the PSP2 is just a handheld, it means a lot of irritation for enthusiasts who were waiting for a hybrid product but much less in the way of actual market confusion when the devices are on sale.
The only actual really 'new' thing in the OP's report is the bit about pricing.
Both parts of which actively support what I and several others have been saying for months now: that there are two different things going on here. One of them is about clawing out marketshare in the crowded Android smartphone market by doing things that make sense in the mobile market while the other is about competing in the handheld gaming market by doing things that make sense in the handheld market. Inasmuch as there's confusion between them, it's because of suboptimal timing (on both products, really) and the fact that there's tons of chatter about a ZOMG handheld/phone hybrid despite the difficulty of integrating those business models (and the fact that nobody in either space is so far actually trying to bridge that gap.)