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September 22, 2006

Sony PS3 adds HDMI port, cuts Japan price

Posted by David Hunter at 8:57 AM ET.

Sony keeps fine tuning the PlayStation 3 right up to its November launch, perhaps with a eye on Microsoft’s Japan specific announcement on Wednesday and analyst fears that Nintendo could beat Sony in Japan with it’s low priced Wii console. Tony Smith at The Register:

Sony has decided to equip the 20GB PlayStation 3 with an HDMI connector, possibly in response to Microsoft’s move to bring the 1080p HD resolution to the Xbox 360. The company also cut the machine’s Japanese retail price.

When Sony launched the PS3 in May this year, it said only the 60GB model would ship with an HDMI 1.3 port to allow it to be connected to an HD TV and play back protected content off Blu-ray Discs without a reduced resolution. Sony has always said the PS3 will support 1080p playback.

Since the 20GB PS3 also contains a BD drive, Sony’s decision to ship the console without an HDMI port was seen as a cost-reducing move too far.

As we mentioned on Wednesday, it’s still not clear what Microsoft is doing for an HDMI port on their new add-on HD DVD drive that will initially only be available in Japan. Concerning the PS3 price decrease, it will now make the Sony PS3 with built-in Blu-ray drive significantly cheaper than the Xbox 360 with the add-on drive:

Sony Corp. on Friday cut the price of its new game machine PlayStation 3 by 20 percent in Japan, choosing to spur growth in the user base at the expense of short-term profitability.

The surprise move comes amid concerns among industry specialists that PS3′s high price tag could prompt some gamers to turn to rival consoles, Microsoft Corp.’s already available Xbox 360 and Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s Wii. Sony, which will launch the latest version of its blockbuster game gear on Nov. 11 in Japan, now plans to sell a version of PS3 with a 20-gigabyte (GB) hard disk drive for 49,980 yen ($430), down from the previously announced 62,790 yen ($540).

Since the two 20 GB consoles with high definition DVD drives were about the same price before, this reduction makes the PS3 about 20% cheaper than the Xbox 360 in Japan.

There’s more in the latter article about how much Sony can afford to lose on each box and the same question applies to Microsoft of course. Admittedly this price war is currently limted to Japan where Microsoft has minimal sales so it will likely hit Sony hardest, but one wonders how far the price slashing will spread. As for Nintendo’s Wii, it is priced at 25,000 yen ($215) in Japan and each box makes a profit.

Filed under Blu-ray, Coopetition, HD DVD, Hardware, Microsoft, Nintendo, Xbox

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