This week, speculation spiked that the 20GB version of the PlayStation 3 was on its way out. It came after the official Sony Style online store removed the "basic" model of the PlayStation 3 from its Web site. Today, the US online stores of Amazon.com, Best Buy, GameStop, EB Games, and Circuit City were also longer listing the 20GB model, which retails for $499.
[UPDATE] As it turns out, there was a good reason for the 20GB PS3 vanishing--it's being officially phased out. "Initial retail demand in North America was upwards of 90 percent in favor of the 60GB [PS3], so we manufactured and shipped-in accordingly," said Dave Karraker, Sony Computer Entertainment America's senior director of PR. "Due to the overwhelming demand for the 60GB model from both retailers and consumers, we have ceased offering the 20GB model here in North America." The 60GB model retails for $599 in the US.
The 20GB model of the console has a number of differences from the 60GB version aside from the size of the internal hard drive and lower price. These include the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity, multiple flash memory card readers, and chrome trim. "Based on retailer and consumer feedback, we have decided to focus our current efforts on the more popular 60GB model," Karraker told GameSpot.
The discontinuation of the 20GB PS3 in North America also throws doubt over the model's launch in Europe, Australia, and other territories, where currently only the 60GB version is available. The budget version was originally expected to arrive sometime in the "summer," although no hard date was ever set. "We'll continue to monitor demand for the 20GB model, from a consumer and retailer perspective...which will be factored into any future Euro launch plans," a Sony Computer Entertainment Europe spokesperson told GameSpot UK. Both versions of the PS3 will continue to be available in Japan.