PS3 slim resurfaces, Sony hardware orders double?

Retailers appear to be making room for new iteration of publisher's console as Taiwanese site reports parts production goes into overdrive.


Sources: See below.

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What we heard: Last week following a bleak earnings report, Sony CFO Nobuyuki Oneda told analysts that his company has reduced PlayStation 3 production costs by 70 percent since the console's November 2006 launch. Though Sony has never officially released a production price for the PS3, figures from hardware research firm iSuppli pointed to the per-unit manufacturing cost of the console now being just $252. That's well below the 80GB console's current $399 cost at retail and enough to make a $299 price point still profitable for Sony.

Though Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer appeared to dismiss the notion of the console being profitable last month, Oneda's comments reignited speculation of a PS3 price cut. That, in turn, refocused attention to photos purporting to be a new, 120GB slimline version of the console which surfaced in May. Like the PS2 Slim introduced in 2004, a smaller form factor would let Sony save millions on manufacturing and shipping costs--and might be the reason for the huge savings Oneda described.

Though Sony continues to remain silent on the prospect of a price cut (see below), the past week has seen a series of reports that indicate something is afoot in the PS3 supply chain. Over the weekend, Amazon's German store posted--and then pulled--a listing for a "PS3 Konsole Slim." Next, the semi-reliable Taiwanese hardware news site Digitimes reported that Sony has "placed significant orders for key Sony PS3 components," doubling demand and leaving suppliers scrambling to churn them out.

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There are also indications that retailers are taking steps to clear out existing PS3 stocks. Taming blog Hatimaki was passed a purported scan of a notice sent to Japanese stores by Sony asking them to remove all current 80GB displays on August 9--shortly before the rumored launch window of the new, cheaper console. Then, the US Amazon store has significantly discounted the 160GB PS3 Uncharted bundle, dropping its price from $499 to $449--just $50 more than the $399 80GB SKU.

The official story: "We don't discuss or comment on rumors or speculation."--Sony rep.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus that there is a disturbance in the PS3 supply force. If it's not a cheaper PS3, then what is it?

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