Sony has teamed up with BT to add phone functions to the popular Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) gaming console.

GoMessenger, due to launch this Friday, is a piece of free software that transforms your Sony PSP into a fully-fledged communications device. Apart from surfing the web, you’ll also be able to text your friends, conduct video chats and send voice messages on the move without having to carry multiple devices.

All you have to do is to hook up to a Wi-Fi hotspot and you’re off.

The GoMessenger service is available through the latest firmware update for the Sony PSP. The IM and web browsing functionalities are available to all, but the video calls require an additional camera - the £35 GoCam - which sits on top of the console.

No call-out function

At the moment, calling non-contacts is not possible. But this function may be added in the future, along with video chats between multiple contacts and other features, Ian Pulford, chief of convergence development at BT Retail, told TechRadar this afternoon.

“We’ll wait and see what features are popular, and what additional functions people want from us,” Pulford said, adding “but it would make a lot of sense [to add a call-out function]”.

‘Better than Skype’

BT said its service is better suited for Sony PSP owners than Skype, which has long been available to use on the Sony PSP. Pulford pointed out that the video call and IM functionalities on Skype are not available on the Sony PSP.

The GoMessenger service is only available for registered users, so you won’t be able to chat to your MSN Messenger, AIM or Skype contacts unless they sign up to BT’s service too.

BT is hoping that the 11 million Sony PSP owners will sign up to the new service, which launches on 29 February.