Sony Corp. is introducing a new version of its PlayStation 3 console in North America in August and cutting the price of the current 60G-byte model by US$100 from Monday, it said.
However, customers in the PAL regions of Australia and Europe have been left in the dark. Sony Computer Entertainment Australia said it had no announcement to make on the matter, yet.
The price of the current console with a 60G-byte hard-disk drive will fall to US$499 (as opposed to A$999 in Australia) from Monday and a new version with 80G-byte hard-disk drive will be launched in August at US$599, which is the same price that the 60G-byte model has been selling at until now.
The new pricing means that the top-of-the-line PlayStation 3 will still carry the same price tag as it has since launch so while the price of the 60G-byte model has been cut it's perhaps not the lower price that analysts have been looking for from Sony for several months.
The PlayStation 3's price, the highest ever for a games console, has been criticized since before it was launched in November last year and it is cited by many as a reason for relatively poor sales of the console. Sony missed its shipment target for the first few months and has been struggling to keep up with Nintendo's smash-hit Wii console, which costs about half as much.
The timing of the cut comes as some surprise. On Friday Sony President Ryoji Chubachi told Reuters in an interview that Sony had no plans at present to cut the price of the console.
The 80G-byte version of the console was first revealed in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in March. The machine was officially announced by Sony in late May and first went on sale in South Korea in June.
Sony said the extra hard-disk space will appeal to online gamers and those interested in using the PlayStation 3's Internet connection to download movie trailers and games. The new version will also come packaged with the "MotorStorm" game that supports up to 12 people playing online in the same game simultaneously.
Earlier on Monday before Sony announced its price cut, the head of Microsoft's Japan unit said the company has no plans to cut the price of its Xbox 360 console should Sony reduce the PlayStation 3 price.
"I think we have very competitive pricing," said Darren Huston, president of Microsoft's Japan unit at a Tokyo news conference.