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Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 12 News List

Sony rushes PSX to market, but drops functions


Sony Corp said its PSX console, which combines a DVD recorder with the PlayStation 2 video game, will have fewer functions than planned because the company ran out of time before next week's debut in Japan.

Sony, the world's second-largest consumer-electronics maker, said the PSX will dub video at half the rate planned and won't play rewritable DVDs, recordable CDs, or MP3 music files.

"We've had very strong demand from store owners," said Taro Takamine, a Sony spokesman in Tokyo. "To meet demand we decided to drop the functions for now."

Sony is rushing to get PSX into stores as consumers receive winter bonuses and the year-end shopping season begins. Chief executive Nobuyuki Idei highlighted PSX as one of the products that will help reverse a profit slide in the past three quarters.

"This raises concerns about profitability as well as loss of trust from consumers and retailers," said Yuki Sugi, analyst at Deutsche Securities Ltd. "It's a difficult call because if Sony delays, PSX won't contribute to a quick profit turnaround. On the other hand, recovering lost faith takes a long time."

Prices are also declining for DVD recorders from rivals such as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, added Sugi, whose company has a "sell" rating on Sony stock.

"Fewer functions mean that there is less reason to buy PSX," Sugi added.

The console goes on sale in Japan on Dec. 13 for as much as ?99,800 (US$921) for the top model. Sony, which first unveiled PSX in October, had said the device will be able to dub DVDs from the hard drive at 24-times playing speed.

PSX will still have its main recording and game features, so the potential for lost sales may be limited, says Hiroshi Takada, an analyst at JP Morgan Securities Asia Ltd in Tokyo.

"The changes aren't fatal," said Takada. "PSX is for those who want a game console and a DVD recorder with a hard-drive at a low price. They aren't necessarily looking for all the functions you would see in a regular DVD recorder."

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