PlayStation Partners for Licensed Mobile Controller

Sony is partnering with startup Backbone to create its first licensed iPhone mobile controller, the Backbone One-PlayStation Edition. It’s yet another concrete step in PlayStation steadily transitioning toward a platform-agnostic ecosystem that meets gamers where they are, even if it’s not on console.

A Familiar Friend
This edition of the Backbone One is largely unchanged. It’s got the PS5’s aesthetic without its more unique features, such as haptic triggers. The tweaks can be mostly found in the accompanying Backbone App’s new PlayStation integrations.

  • $99 detachable game controller
    • It should be functional with Android devices using a USB C-to-Lightning cable
  • Backbone offers an non-PlayStation Android controller, but without an app so far
  • Backbone+ App on iOS adds additional social features for $49 annually

Long Distance Relationship
PlayStation Remote Play, which allows gamers to play titles on non-console devices, has been around for 16 years, but it hasn’t gained much traction. This development might persuade more gamers to give it a shot now that they have a controller designed for gaming on-the-go.

  • The device is also much-needed advertising for services Sony has struggled to educate consumers about

More importantly, it’s a logical product in the context of PlayStation’s revamped subscription options that promote its PlayStation Now gaming service (included with $17.99/month Premium subscription).  The service is currently limited to PC and console, but mobile would be the next logical step.

A Growing Company
This is quite the achievement for Backbone, which was founded less than three years ago and raised a cool $40 million in February. As to what could be next, two words beginning with “A” spring to mind:

  • Android: If the iPhone edition sells well, an Android PlayStation controller and Google Store App are a no-brainer
  • Acquisition: Backbone would seem to be a logical target for Sony acquisition, given it appears serious about investing in PS5-adjacent peripherals such as gaming monitors and headsets.
    • For Backbone, being fully incorporated into the Sony family could be valuable given its main competition is currently Razer’s Kishi
    • Razer is bigger and has a more expansive product lineup it can use to leverage sales of niche devices like the Kishi and Backbone