So, the fact that Vita is going nowhere fast has been making the rounds of the news sites, so I think it's time to play...
STEAL THIS PITCH!
One of the recurring themes of the Vita post-mortems is that it's losing because of the prevalence of powerful mobile phones. What's funny is that Sony also brought out another device that could have been a game changer, before the Vita: the Xperia Play. Now the Xperia Play didn't do too well either, but I think that's because it was generally half-assed and the Vita was announced right after it came out. So what I'm pitching is, basically, an Xperia Play that doesn't suck — a smartphone designed for gaming, with a slide-out gamepad (and, ideally, Android). How to make it not suck? I have some ideas:
* Use decent hardware. One of the Play's biggest failings is that it used a midrange processor and GPU, not much memory, and a pathetic amount of storage. It was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a phone capable of great high-end gaming experiences. In its day, the XP should have had a Tegra 2; nowadays, a Tegra 3 should be a bare minimum (and, as I'm sure others will point out, you could do a lot better than that).
* Sell it everywhere. No carrier exclusivity. Make sure it gets in as many hands as possible. Sell an unlocked version, too, which leads me to...
* Take a page from Google. Google just made all kinds of waves by announcing the Nexus 4 crammed with high-end hardware (except, oddly enough, an LTE radio), unlocked, starting at $299. This phone needs to be sold around that same price range. You'll make it up by selling games from your digital storefront.
* Take a page from Apple. Some people don't want a smartphone, for various reasons. You still want these people in your ecosystem. Apple sells the iPod Touch, for people who want in on iOS but don't want an iPhone. Do the same thing; sell a wifi-only version of your gamer phone. Price it at $199.
* Treat it like a console launch. Have your storefront ready on day 1. Have exclusive games (timed exclusives, at least) available. Good ones. AAA-quality ones. Don't even think of shipping the phone until you have this lined up. You don't get a second chance to make a first impression.
If you work for a gaming company, if you work for a smartphone company, hell, if you're just well-connected and looking to get a startup going (like the Ouya guys), I'm begging you, steal this pitch. I promise you I won't sue. I have neither the connections, the money, nor the technical prowess to see a project like this through, and I know it; all I want is to see it happen. This can be the device that finally bridges the casual and hardcore gaming worlds. And I will be the first in line to buy one when it launches.