Parents will need to start saving now if there’s going to be a Sony PlayStation 3 under the tree this Christmas.
According to a press release issued by the company earlier today, two clear black versions of the console will go on sale in New Zealand on November 17 as part of an almost simultaneous worldwide launch (the Japanese launch date is November 11).
Based on current exchange rates, a version with a 20GB hard drive will go on sale with a $999 recommended price tag, while the version with a 60GB drive will retail at $1,199, making it the most expensive games console ever sold.
However, with the New Zealand dollar expected to fall further, the eventual price may be higher than these estimates. Paul Jackson, an analyst with Forrester Research, described these prices to Britain's The Guardian newspaper as "insanely expensive". Nevertheless, there appears to be a pent-up demand for the device.
Sony originally planned to launch its next-generation games machine during the current quarter. But the company ran into manufacturing and cost containment problems, hence a delay of roughly six months.
Much of the hardware's high cost can be attributed to expenses associated with the new Cell processor which Sony developed jointly with IBM and Toshiba.
When the machine appears it will go head to head with Microsoft's Xbox 360, which launched in New Zealand last month. Prices for Microsoft's console start at around $550, but the device is mainly sold as part of a more expensive bundle.
To some extent, Sony has bet the company on the success of its new PlayStation after being wrong footed by Microsoft with the success of its Xbox and Apple with its iPod. All parts of the organisation have been dragooned into the project. The company says it will have two million units ready by launch date and a further four million units will be ready by March 2007.