Sony's pocket-sized PSP Go is finally out in the UK this week, with SCE ditching the unpopular UMD disc format in preference of digital downloaded games from its online store.

And while Sony has come under fire for not making the entire PSP back catalogue available to PSP Go gamers, the new machine is certainly a looker and has the huge advantage over its bigger, older brethren in the PSP family in that it pretty much fits in most pockets.

And yet while some traditional retailers bemoan the fact that they cannot make money from downloads and that small (yet vocal) hardcore PSP gaming community mocks the fact that their favourite games are still only available on physical discs, Sony is sure to make a splash in the run-up to the busy Christmas gift-buying season with the new PSP Go.

Sony's Claire Backhouse, Product Manager for PSP in the UK is quick to point out the differences between the new PSP Go and PS3 Slim, telling GamesIndustry.biz: "The Slim is actually taking over from the old PS3, whereas with PSP Go we're not taking over from the PSP 3000, it's very much a console that's going to sit alongside the PSP 3000."

Movies, Facebook, Skype

Sony is aiming to take a slice of the older gaming market, those, "16-34 year olds... like iPhone users who watch films and want high quality downloadable games on the go... that suit their lifestyle."

As for non-games download plans for the PSP Go, the Sony exec admits that, while at launch they are "very much focusing on the gaming part of it... in the next couple of months you'll get other people that are interested in just general entertainment and things like Skyping - you can Skype on the console really easily - and going on the net, checking Facebook, that sort of thing".

Perhaps, most controversially, while she admits that Apple's iPhone has opened up the casual "social gaming on the go market" Backhouse thinks that "PSP Go is... even better than an iPhone" when you consider the range of gaming and entertainment services on offer.

A bold claim indeed and one which only time and the ever-changing whims of the mass market consumer while bear out.

Via GamesIndustry.biz