It appears Sony is getting serious about competing with Apple in the handheld gadget market. In particular, Sony is taking aim at Apple’s multi-feature iPhone and iPad devices.

The Wall Street Journal reports the Japanese electronics giant has developed a PlayStation Portable (PSP) smartphone through its Sony Ericsson mobile business.

Additionally, it is reported that Sony plans to broaden its overall strategy with a host of new handheld devices. The company already has the Sony Reader, which has reportedly sold more than 1 million units, but its smartphones have lacked the kind of mass appeal that would signal any real competition for Apple.

The Sony Ericsson smartphone, the Xperia X10, has been met with a tepid response from reviewers and consumers. Sony Ericsson saw a decrease in its mobile shipments of more than 40 percent in 2009.

A new PSP smartphone is aimed at competing with the throngs of new multitasking gadgets coming to market. The most notable of these gadgets would, of course, be Apple’s iPad, which will draw content from Apple’s proprietary iTunes store.

At Mobile World Congress, Sony said that all of its devices will soon be able to connect to its forthcoming online media service, which will feature content similar to that offered at Apple’s iTunes.

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