PSP ads running in Japan

Do cryptic ads in Japanese game magazines mean that a PSP announcement is forthcoming, or are they just to take attention away from the Nintendo DS?

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TOKYO--Sony Computer Entertainment has yet to announce any concrete information on the release of its PSP handheld system--no launch date, no price. That's why it came as a surprise to Japanese gamers this week when the company began to run ads for the machine in game publications like Dengeki PlayStation and manga magazines like Weekly Shonen Sunday.

The ad doesn't say much. In fact, it doesn't feature any pictures or even a description of the portable machine. Instead, nearly the entire page is taken up with a giant Quick Response code, which looks something like a rectangular UPC symbol. The QR code is generally used in Japan for mobile phones. When a camera phone user takes a snapshot of the code, the phone can read the information and convert it into data such as a URL for a product Web site. If this is the case, people can click directly over to the Web site using the browser function on their mobile phones.

By printing a QR code as the first of its PSP advertisements, the company might just be trying to convince the public that the PSP will be an all-in-one portable machine much like mobile phones themselves. Or perhaps there is a deeper secret behind the advertisement.

Another mystery to puzzle over is why Sony is advertising the PSP at all at this point. It's possible that SCE might be launching the ad in response to the deluge of media hype and commercial advertisements surrounding the Nintendo DS. But on the other hand, it might be a sign that the company is planning an announcement about the system's price and/or launch date. Considering that Nintendo began running its DS ads on TV just a week or so before it announced the handheld's release date and price, this may indeed may be a harbinger of forthcoming news.

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