Sony Japan are to start selling a new version of the PS2 (the SCPH-90000) in Japan later this year which will then be rolled out to other markets in the new year. Initially it will be at the same price as the old model. This is pretty much what Sony did with the original playstation.
The reason for this is very simple, despite being 7 years old and with over 120 million sold, the PS2 still has a few years to go (three, maybe four). By re-engineering it to be cheaper to manufacture Sony will make more profit on every unit sold to help support the cash hole that is the PS3. Also it gives them more headroom to sell at lower prices, especially in emerging markets like India and China. And especially to compete with the Nintendo Wii.
The details of the makeover are scant, merely that the power supply is now integrated and that it is lighter (720g). Whilst being functionally the same the component count inside will certainly be down and some of the chips will be smaller. This is achieved with a higher level of integration and possibly 65nm fabrication. As a result it will run cooler so they can get away with incorporating the power supply inside the console casing, which is the identical size to the old model’s. An important consideration will be that without the external PSU they can now ship more units per container.
Periodic re-engineering of the inside of consoles (whilst keeping appearance and usually function the same) like this is standard practice as the manufacturers try to take advantage of advancing technology to reduce manufacturing costs. The original Playstation had a massive reduction in the number of components during it’s ten year lifetime. And both the PS3 and Xbox 360 have just been re-engineered to take advantage of the new 65nm fabrication technology.
It is amazing that so many developers gave up on the PS2 two years ago. Then it had at least 5 years production life left in it as well as that massive installed user base. It is now well known by development staff with lots of proven tools available. So it is very easy to develop for, unlike the PS3. There is a lot of money to be made in the second half of a console lifecycle.
So what do you think of this move by Sony?