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Despite launching the PlayStation 3 games console, Sony sees PSP as its main driver for growth in the PlayStation business. The company also plans to kick on with PS2 and is planning new interactive entertainment networking capabilities for the PS3.

At this year’s Tokyo Game Show, Kazuo Hirai, President and Group CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment outlined his plans for the PlayStation business.

Hirai said the PS2, in its 8th year from launch, is still seeing steady demand, particularly in North America and Europe. It hit 120 million sales last year, and the company is going to further expand the business into emerging markets, and promote the previous generation console “by introducing more and more exciting new games.”

But what Hirai sees as a key driving force for Sony’s growth strategy for the PlayStation business as a whole, is the PlayStation Portable console. The company said strong support from users worldwide as well as a strong software line-up, including million seller titles from publishers around the world, has resulted in PSP hardware shipment exceeding 26 million units worldwide by June, 2007.

Hirai said the company will make the device more and more portable, introduce new colours and bundles as well as enrich network content and services – adding TV tuners and GPS peripherals. He also said the company will continue to reduce the price of the console to expand the platform. What is not known is whether these peripherals and price reductions will follow through in Australia.

Meanwhile Sony plans to give PlayStation 3 a boost by working closer with third party software developers to enhance efficiency in games development. It has also acquired game developer Evolution Studios and its subsidiary Bigbig studios to further expand its games development.

The company promises continuous cost reduction efforts including shrinking the chip size and reducing the number of components. “Cost reduction of hardware is one of the most important challenges for our business and SCEI will further accelerate this effort.”

 

PS3 also sees a new DualShock 2 wireless controller which incorporates a rumble feature – this will be launched in Japan in November and US and Europe next year. No word yet when it’s coming down under.
 
We tipped a while back that Sony has networking plans for the PS3 – and Hirai has confirmed that Sony is looking into new business opportunities for “the Network Era.” One such concept is PlayStation Home – a 3D online user community service which will launch next year, and a PlayStation store in Japan which lets PSP users download content available on the PlayStation network via their PC. 

Gran Turismo5 Prologue will be available both on Blu-ray Disc and as a downloadable content from PlayStation Network on December 13th in the Japanese market. Gran Turismo Prologue presents a new lifestyle beyond traditional game experiences such as on-line car dealers and “GT.TV”, an in-game service for the distribution of car programs, the company says.

More than 2.7 million users worldwide have gone on-line with PS3 and the number is increasing, Sony claims.

Hirai also mentioned that PS3’s super computer-like powerful Cell Broadband Engine (Cell/B.E.) will be even more powerful when connected to the network – , Stanford University’s Folding@home program achieved a total computing power of 1 petaflop at a single moment, of which 80 percent calculation was contributed by PS3 users.

With PS3, equipped with this powerful Cell/B.E. as well as other state-of-the-art technology such as full HD capability and Blu-ray, SCEI will continue to expand a new world of interactive entertainment, he said.

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