Rob Fahey 10:02 16/09/2004
Smaller version of PS2 with built-in network adapter at $149 price point?
A redesigned version of Sony's PlayStation 2 console, dubbed PStwo, could launch in the USA next month alongside GTA: San Andreas, according to a report in the US entertainment press citing industry analysts and retailers.
The new version of the console would be around 30 per cent smaller than the current hardware, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which claims that industry insiders expect the device to roll out on October 26th at a $149 price point.
Some retailers and industry executives in the USA have been calling on Sony to drop the price of the PS2 ahead of Christmas, despite a drop earlier this year, in an effort to boost Q4 sales - and while launching a redesigned console at the current price point isn't quite in line with those calls, it would probably have a similar effect on sales.
"Sony has not commented publicly about the device but has already applied for the copyright of PStwo," explained analyst P.J. McNealy of American Technology Research. "A new box and console design will make the system fresh."
If Sony really is going to launch the PStwo this Christmas, it would go some way towards explaining the ongoing low inventory levels of the PlayStation 2 in the USA - which could be down to the company trying to clear out the channel ahead of the new hardware launch.
However, the possibility of the PStwo emerging in October remains firmly in the realms of speculation, and a number of factors would seem to weigh heavily against the rumour - not least the fact that Sony hasn't announced anything in either the USA or Japan as yet, only six weeks before the suggested launch.
While that timescale isn't impossible by any means - the company cut the time between announcement and launch of the PSone quite fine as well, presumably in an effort to sustain sales of the original console for as long as possible - it's worth noting that the PSone didn't arrive until the launch of the PlayStation 2, and was seen as a repositioning of the console away from the new platform's market space.
With PlayStation 3 still over a year away, and PlayStation 2 still selling strongly, it would seem like an unusual move for Sony to roll out the PStwo ahead of that schedule - although the company may do so in an attempt to ensure that PlayStation sales remain firmly ahead of the Xbox in North America.
The timing would also, as McNealy points out, give Sony a "one-two punch" - launching a new console design alongside the biggest title of the year, GTA San Andreas, only weeks before Microsoft rolls Halo 2 out to retail.
This is going to be pretty cool. They should lower the price to a $100 though.