Talking tech since 2003

In the world of video games, Sony has done quite a good job in making a name for themselves.  The PlayStation line has been insanely successful, and has earned the reputation for having high-quality and great gameplay.  However, Sony’s involvement in the gaming industry has always been most prominent in the arena of console-based gaming.  About six years ago, however, Sony opted to change this and branched out into a relatively new venture for the company;  building on the success of the PlayStation family with the release of the PlayStation Portable (PSP).

At the time, the PSP was a huge game-changer (no pun intended) in the sense that it truly revolutionized mobile gaming and brought it up to par with the type of technology seen in the console-based systems.  With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the PSP debut was very successful in initial sales.  And this success was anything but short-lived.  Tim Bender, VP of sales at Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), has even been quoted as saying that the “demand for the PSP remains strong” six years after the initial release.

Late last week Sony announced that they would be dropping the price of the PlayStation Portable down to $129; a $40 price drop from its previous price of $169.  Bender went on to say that the lower price point would help to “broaden the PSP platform to a larger group of consumers who are looking for best-in-class handheld entertainment.”

Personally, I think that the price decrease will boost Sony’s current sales volume.  However even though the price drop itself makes the device a bit more attractive to consumers, I honestly feel that Sony is simply dropping the price of the PSP in order to play out a much larger and strategic marketing game.

You see, for years now people have speculated about Sony making a “PSP phone” that combined Sony’s presence in the mobile communication industry with its presence in the gaming industry to create a mobile device targeted specifically towards gamers.  And even though the idea seemed far-fetched for a long time, the end of last year brought news that Sony was indeed working on a PlayStation phone as part of the Sony Ericsson mobile line.

Having said all of this, Sony’s price drop would make a lot of sense if they were planning to release a PSP phone in the near future.  By dropping the price of the PSP, Sony would help to prepare the mobile market for the introduction of the phone by moving the price-point closer to what we will likely see subsidized contract pricing on the PSP phone to be priced at.

Moreover, by making their pricing more competitive, I can see where Sony has the potential to compete with Apple on the iPhone/iPod Touch product line.  You see, the release of the PlayStation phone will but Sony’s PlayStation mobile lineup in the same position as Apple, who has a non-network mobile device (the iPod Touch) and a mobile phone (the iPhone).  This two-tiered type system seems to have done wonders for Apple, and I think that Sony would do relatively well by adopting the same strategy.  At the same time however, the revamped PlayStation line would have its own “edge” – that being gaming – to make it unique enough to the point where Sony and Apple will not be stepping on each other’s toes.

What do you think?  Is the PlaySatation portable price drop a hint as to Sony’s future in the mobile field?  Do you think it will pan out for them?  Let us know in the comments!


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