Sony execs talk PS3, 360, and PC

Kutaragi says next-gen console is like a PC, Stringer jokes he has an "obsession" with Microsoft's next-gen console.


Last week, Sony Worldwide Studios president Phil Harrison caused a semi-furor by insinuating the PlayStation 3 could replace the PC in the home. While his comments were mainly directed at the console's entertainment and multimedia capabilities, Sony has long said that the PS3 will have some PC-like functions.

That line was repeated again today by Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi. Speaking with Japanese site PC Impress Watch, the executive defended the PS3's high $499/$599 price points by saying it was not just another console. "Unlike previous PlayStations, it is clearly a computer," he said according to a GameSpot translation.

Kutaragi went on to talk about the need to be able to expand the PS3's technical functions, just like one would with a PC. "Because the PS3 is a computer, we need to do more than just lower the costs, but the console must be able to evolve," he said. He said one of the first tasks at hand would be to introduce a hard-disk drive with higher capacity that the currently scheduled 20GB and 60GB models.

Kutaragi even raised the prospect that, further down the road, Sony might release a PS3 peripheral that could burn Blu-ray discs, the company's high-capacity successor to DVD. "We might want to add a BD drive, a writable drive," he said before quickly reversing himself. "Well, maybe not BD."

Kutaragi also said that, other than the PS3's current read-only Blu-ray drive, the main reason for the console's high cost was the built-in HDD. "For a game console, to add a hard drive puts pressure on cost," he said. "Unlike a semiconductor chip, HDD cannot help lower the cost of the product. ... As a game console, the price has to, over time, be reduced to the 100 dollar range, but that is hard to do with an HDD. ... That [is why] PS3 pricing is not conforming to conventional pricing for a game console."

Meanwhile, Kutaragi's boss, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer, had a few choice words to say about one of the PS3's rivals, the Xbox 360. Actually, it was more like one choice word. During an on-stage Q&A at last week's D: All Things Digital conference, which is organized by the Wall Street Journal, he was asked about the mixed critical reception of Sony Pictures' blockbuster film The Da Vinci Code. He misspoke when responding, saying "Xbox 3" instead of "X-Men 3," prompting laughter from the audience. The Welshman then joked, "There's an obsession!"

Stringer recovered quickly, talking up the PS3 in no uncertain terms. "It's got more bells and whistles than a 747," he boasted. "That Cell processor is extraordinarily powerful and you have nine hours of high definition on the Blu-ray disks alone. ... The reason it's expensive [is that] instead of concentrating on just the games player, which would have been done in the past, PlayStation 3 is designed to go somewhere else, where it's the center of the living room."

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