A flurry of photoshopped fanboy art, predicting a possible future form factor for Sony’s PSP (which looks very ‘iPhone-esque’) has set the internet rumour mills alight with chatter about the possible future for the Japanese gaming giant’s handheld gaming platform.

While sales of the PSP have been somewhat overshadowed by the runaway sales of Nintendo’s DS in recent years, there are clearly many within the games industry that strongly believe in the future of the PSP format.

The end of the crummy nub

Techradar spoke with Daniel Dawkins, editor of our sister publication PSM3, who had the following to say about the current batch of PSP concept images that are doing the rounds: “Three thoughts: I love the screen, I fear the scratches and I applaud the dual-analogue sticks - the solitary, crummy nub is responsible for the number of dire FPS's on PSP.

“In reality, I think Sony's PSP2 - whenever they choose to announce it - should (though not necessarily will) feature a minimum 720p LCD screen for HD gaming/Blu-ray movies, compared to the current screen's 480 x 272. If Sony is serious about it linking with PS3, it needs to offer a comparable features set – Blu-ray manufacturers are already planning to bundle mp4 (PSP) versions of films on Blu-ray discs, so the resolution needs to be near-identical.”

The death of UMD

Expounding on his theme, Dawkins added: “I expect UMD to die, replaced by a larger internal memory/stick system - we're talking 8GB at least - with games downloaded from your PS3 via Wi-Fi, or USB cable. That, or downloaded direct from a Sony website. PS3 is always making great strides into digital distribution (with its Mac/PC content streaming, PS Store, PSN games, PlayTV) and PSP2 needs to be its perfect mobile complement, with effortless movement of games, photos, movies and music.”

Whatever PSP2 turns out to be, PSM3’s recent poll of industry analysts and leading developers suggests that PSP2 has to become a true iPhone rival. The current PSP is already delivering free calls via Skype and, as Dawkins reminds us, “has a lot of useful, unsung abilities - the camera, the GPS route map, Talkman etc - that need to be integrated into the core PSP2 hardware.”