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Final PS3 Assembly to Start End of September

Some additional launch details for the PlayStation 3 have begun to come out. Final assembly of the console is set to start at the end of this month, Sony revealed. The company also mentioned that a new PSP bundle is in the works for the holiday season.

In a meeting with analysts, Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) has announced that final assembly for the PlayStation 3 will begin by the end of this month. 400K units will ship ahead of the console's November 17th launch in North America, and Sony plans to follow that up with another 800K units via air freight through the end of this year.

SCEA also provided some guidelines about the percentage of core ($499, 20GB) versus premium ($599, 60GB) PS3s in the shipments. Retailers in the U.S. can expect a split of roughly 80 percent premium and 20 percent core. Although Sony will have shipped only 2.4 million units worldwide in 2006 (as opposed to their initial forecast of 4 million), the company still believes it will hit its goal of 6 million shipped through next March. Sony said that monthly PS3 production will be ramped up to 1.2 million units in January when the Blu-ray laser supplies are expected to improve.

Details on Sony's online plans are expected to be revealed at the upcoming Tokyo Game Show (September 22 - 24). While many in the industry believe that digital distribution is the wave of the future, full download of console games isn't likely anytime soon. According to Colin Sebastian of Lazard Capital Markets, "Management indicated that full downloads of console games will not be practical in the near term due to storage and bandwidth constraints."

At the meeting Sony also reiterated their belief in the ten-year console lifecycle. Despite the fact that the PS2 has been on the market 6 years, Sony fully expects that it will continue to sell for another 4-5 years.

On the portable side, Sony said that it plans to more aggressively market the PSP's non-gaming features, and the company also revealed that a new PSP bundle is on the way. Sony intends to offer an entertainment pack including a UMD movie, the game ATV Off Road Fury, and a 1GB memory stick. An exact price and date for the bundle were not revealed. Currently, Sony offers a $199 core PSP and a $249 value pack that includes a 32MB memory stick, earphones, slip cover and more.

Posted by Ed on September 12.

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