In the outside-Apple department, we noted that Sony has decided to rev the PlayStation 2, at least in Japan. The consumer electronics giant is adding support for DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW discs. Apple currently offers DVD-R support in its SuperDrive equipped Macs. The new support for these formats in the PlayStation 2 is limited to allowing users to be able to play these discs, as opposed to the ability to record, but the point is to appeal to users burning these discs on their Macs and PCs. The newly equipped PS2 units will make it easier for users to play digital home movies on their TVs.
Sony is making the move in order to boost sales of the console. PlayStation 2 sales slipped in 2002, according to a Bloomberg report. Sony will also be using the new functionality as an opportunity to increase the price of the game console. From Bloomberg:
"Weire not just sitting doing nothing," Sony Computeris Fukunaga said. "We want to expand the PlayStation 2 user base."
In February, Sony Computer started selling the game console in three different colors to boost sales -- silver, pink and blue. The colored PlayStation 2s sell at a recommended retail price of 25,000 yen, about the same as existing models.
The PlayStation 2 with the improved DVD playing function and a new remote controller goes on sale May 15 in Japan. The new DVD player will conform to the re-writable DVD standard; the new remote controller will be able to turn the console on and off and open and close the DVD tray.
Another option would be to offer PlayStation 2 buyers a free video game with each console. The practice, known as bundling, is commonly used in the industry to lift console sales without cutting prices.
We also noted in the article another interesting tidbit. While it has long been known that Microsoft loses money on each Xbox sold, US$70 according to the article, it says Sony actually profits some 3,000 Yen on each machine (US$24.88 as of press time), making the competition between the two companies take on ever deeper meaning. The traditional business model is for the manufacturer to lose money on consoles in order to make money on video game royalties. For Sony to pull off a profit on the hardware gives the company a competitive advantage.
Check out the full article at the Detroit News Web site.