From a PR perspective, I completely agree that Sony has screwed the pooch on managing consumer opinions, at least within the industry. Outside, however, the average consumer just sees a $499 60GB PS3 on sale.

I disagree with the people that insist Sony is driving for some “magical” $599 price point. If it was, I think the sales spike they will see from this price drop will convince them otherwise. The reality for Sony is that they have a huge number of 60GB systems collecting dust on store shelves. The still-born 20GB is largely vanished, and the 80GB isn’t even available yet.

Now, if Sony was to announce the 80GB system at the same $499 that the 60GB has just been reduced to, how many of those 60GB systems would they be likely to sell, now or in the future? Not many, I’d wager, unless they planned to drop the price on those even further. The company would be foolish to do that, especially since the 80GB won’t be around until August. The smart thing to do — and what I suspect is Sony’s plan all along here — is to release the 80GB at $599 with the no-longer-in-production 60GB at $499 until the 60GB units are either depleted or nearly impossible to find (as opposed to now, where it’s the only thing available!), then get a further PR boost with another price drop lowering the 80GB to $499 as well.

I personally can’t think of a better time than now to invest some dough in the inevitable (for some gamers anyway) of a PS3.  The price has just dropped, and isn’t likely to drop below $499 any time soon.  You might get an extra 20GB for the same price in the not-too-distant future, but at the cost of true backwards compatibility on the system (and it’s not like the the hard drive is very difficult to upgrade way past the 80GB).  If the new price point is still too hot for your blood, that’s understandable, but you’ll be waiting years for it to come far below that, so I’m not speaking to you anyhow.

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