May 18, 2005 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. said yesterday that it will release next spring its PlayStation 3, a new multifunction product, reported the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. The console is packed with the latest technologies, including the powerful Cell microprocessor, which the Sony Corp. group co-developed with Toshiba Corp. and IBM Corp. It can also play Blu-ray Discs, the next-generation DVDs backed by Sony and others.
In addition to playing the high-capacity Blu-ray Discs, which are suitable for recording high-definition games and movies, the PS3 plays conventional DVDs and CDs. It can be used as an Internet videophone if a camera is attached, and it can also connect to equipment such as portable music players and digital cameras.
The unit is expected to sell for about 50,000 yen (US$465), more than the initial 39,800 yen (US$370) price for the PlayStation 2.
It works with games for the original PlayStation, which shipped 100 million units, and the PS2, which shipped some 90 million. Backed by the strength of the PlayStation brand and the huge software lineup, Sony hopes to tap nongame markets by stressing the various functions and convenience of the PS3.
Sony is not alone in hoping to make an entry into the living room with a multifunction game console. Microsoft Corp. aims to do so with its new Xbox 360, unveiled last week, which lets consumers play music and video as well as use such Internet services as content-downloading using their television screens.
Although the PS3 has twice the computing power of the Xbox 360, it cannot be expected to go into widespread use without popular software. The success of the PlayStation series is owed to gamers around the world and game developers. Some experts say it would be easier for companies to develop games for the new Xbox because the PS3 is too sophisticated.
“Consumers prefer products that are easier to understand,” says Hiroshi Takada, senior analyst at the Tokyo branch of J.P. Morgan Securities Asia Pte. Ltd. “A strategy of combining various functions is attractive, but Sony should first try to popularize the new product as a high-performance ‘super game machine.’ “