Sony CEO: Vita OS designed to be used on smartphones, tablets

It’s pretty clear Samsung is keeping Bada/Tizen around as a possible future escape clause in case Android and/or Google goes nuts. Sony doesn’t have an alternative to Android – which it may need soon, since its Android smartphones and tablets aren’t doing particularly well. As such, Sony’s new CEO Kazuo Hirai has hinted that the operating system of the Playstation Vita may make its way to smartphones and tablets.

The Playstation Vita hasn’t seen much coverage here, considering it’s a gaming device and we rarely cover gaming. So, to recap: it’s Sony’s latest handheld gaming device, which runs a mystery operating system the web apparently knows little to nothing about. The graphical user interface – ugly as it is – is called LiveArea.

Beyond that, though, little appears to be known about what operating system is actually powering the Vita. I’ve been searching around, but couldn’t find anything. Since it’s a high-end gaming device, the operating system’s lower levels should be able to give very close and unfettered access to the hardware for optimal performance and latency.

As far as I know, there’s no source code release or people asking for source code, so I’m assuming it isn’t running Linux – but I could be wrong. A partial translation of a Japanese interview with Hirai says something about being built from scratch, but there’s no indication what was built from scratch; the entire operating system, or just the userland? There really is very little information available, so if any of you has information or links or whatever – please post a comment.

In any case, the Vita operating system has been built with expandability in mind, according to Hirai. “If you’re asking if we’ve made it in a way that’s expandable, so that it’s possible to apply to smartphones and tablets on top of achieving the high responsiveness we need for gaming devices – it is possible,” Hirai told reporters, according to Japanese Web site AV Watch, “That doesn’t mean that we’re applying it to smartphones and tablets at this point in time, but it’s been designed with expandability in mind.”

While Android itself is doing pretty damn good, it’s mostly Samsung and to a lesser extent HTC that’s reaping the benefits. Sony’s phones haven’t been doing particularly well, so the company may be looking at alternatives. While most of us would want to see someone – for the love of god, someone – take on webOS, I’m equally excited about the possibility of Sony releasing smartphones with a custom operating system.

They do need to hire a few UI designers, though. Really. I’m available. Even I could do a better job than this.


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