Sony Ericsson unveiled on Sunday its long-awaited PlayStation smartphone, and said Verizon Wireless would sell the model in the United States.

The model, named Xperia Play, will open better access to the world's largest smartphone market for the a 50-50 venture of Sweden's Ericsson and Japan's Sony Corp.

Sony Ericsson also unveiled two other smartphone models running Google's Android software and said it plans to launch at least eight Android phones this year.

Android has risen fast to be the platform of choice for many smaller phone makers who have rolled out dozens of similar models to battle against Nokia and Apple.

The Xperia Play offers something refreshingly different amidst a sea of homogenous Android devices. Sony Ericsson needs to maximize its first-to-market advantage before the inevitable rush to join the PlayStation party, said Geoff Blaber, analyst at research firm CCS Insight.

Bert Nordberg, Chief Executive of Sony Ericsson, told Reuters the firm will focus increasingly on growth this year, after turning profitable in 2010.

Nordberg said the company aims to grow both revenue and profits in 2011.

All new models will go on sale from early April, leaving the group with an awkward gap having already had to slash prices to attract Christmas shoppers to its aging handsets.

(Reporting by Tarmo Virki; Editing by Greg Mahlich)