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In a bid to improve sales of the worst-selling new-generation game console, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. is rumoured to introduce a new low-cost PlayStation 3 flavour and sell it for $399 this holiday season. If the information is correct, move will allow gamers to start playing the PS3 for a considerably lower amount of money than previously.

The game console lineup that SCEI plans to offer this holiday season includes PlayStation 3 80GB for $499, PlayStation 3 40GB for $399 and PlayStation 2 for $99, reports Ars Technica web-site. In addition, at least the most expensive PlayStation 3 version will include Spider Man movie in Blu-ray format to further popularize the console among teenagers.

Sales of Sony PlayStation 3 have been much slower compared to Microsoft Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii mostly because of the price-point that was nearly as high as the price of the two competitors combined. At $399 Sony’s PlayStation 3 would still be a bit more expensive compared to Microsoft Xbox 360 premium package, however, Sony would be able to say that besides gaming it also offers Blu-ray disc player.

Last year Sony lost up to $241 on every PlayStation 3 60GB game console, but over the year the company performed a number of measures to reduce the production cost of $840. For example, Sony removed PlayStation 2 hardware from PS3, reducing the cost by $27. Moreover, over the year different components of Sony PlayStation 3 also lost in price, which could lead to a substantial price reduction. For example, Microsoft succeeded in cutting the cost of the Xbox 360 by as much as 38.5% in the first year, from $525 to $323, according to some estimates. If Sony manages to achieve the same, the manufacturing cost of a PlayStation 3 with 60GB hard drive, but without PS2 hardware, would be around $490.

Sony PlayStation 3 console is based on the Cell processor developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the RSX graphics chip by Nvidia Corp., wireless network and Bluetooth connectivity and is equipped with Blu-ray optical disk drive. There are several versions of the consoles available around the world with 60GB or 80GB hard disk drives and variable compatibility with PlayStation 1/2 games.

Officials from Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. did not comment on the news-story.

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