Thursday, May 29, 2003

Next up: 'Crossover' PlayStation

By Yuri Kageyama
The Associated Press

TOKYO - Sony Corp. unveiled a "crossover" PlayStation 2 video game console with a built-in DVD recorder and hard drive for storing data Wednesday, part of a strategy to combine technologies in hopes of boosting the company's brand and restoring its profitability.

The beefed-up PlayStation 2, called the PSX, will go on sale in Japan this year and is planned for the United States and Europe early next year, Sony executive deputy president Ken Kutaragi said. He refused to give a price.

"We want an extreme product to represent a new platform out of Sony," he told reporters at a Tokyo hotel where a prototype was shown.

The PSX was the highlight of a presentation by Sony executives outlining a new strategy to calm investors after the company last month reported a worse-than-expected loss of 111 billion yen ($945 million) for the January-March quarter.

That sent Sony's shares sharply lower in what the Japanese media dubbed "the Sony shock."

"The Sony shock was a shock for us, too," chief executive Nobuyuki Idei said. "We want to change the shock into something positive."

Sony has repeatedly promised to generate profits through futuristic gadgets that download entertainment for the network-linked home, allowing Sony to exploit both its electronics and entertainment divisions.

The video game console market is fiercely competitive, pitting the PlayStation 2 against the Xbox from Microsoft Corp. and the GameCube from Nintendo Co.

The PlayStation 2 is the No. 1 video game machine, with 52.5 million sold worldwide. Sony also plans to start selling a portable PlayStation 2 called PSP next year.

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