We had a feeling we'd soon be hearing more on the, and sure enough, some enticing tidbits have hit the blogosphere. On Tuesday, several sites picked up on a report by Chinese-language site Economic Daily News (UDN.com) that Sony has signed manufacturing agreements with two Taiwanese-based companies, Foxconn and Pegatron, to build the new, slimmed-down version of the PS3 in July.
We've looked at a rather poorly translated version of the story and it's very hard to tell from what we read what the exact details are, but both Joystiq Japan and Engadget China have apparently provided their sister sites in the U.S. with a better translation (they do note that the information is based on anonymous sources, so take this all as rumor, not fact).
Aside from the possibility that the the PS3 Slim might actually be a real product--and coming soon--the key detail in the report is the timing of the PS3 Slim's shipping date. According to the article, the lighter, smaller PS3 units are expected to start shipping in early July "to cope with expected summer vacation demands."
Translation: Sony wants to get a new unit out while kids have nothing to do but play video games (and apparently, in Japan, a lot of game consoles are sold during the summer holidays). Still, July seems a bit early to us, and industry watchers think a fall launch for the revised PS3--if indeed it's coming--is a more likely scenario for the North American market. That would give retail more time to clear the channel of existing inventory of the 80GB PS3 ($399) without having to blow it out at a discount.
All that said, we have no idea what a new PS3 will cost or what its configuration will be. However, chances are good that Sony will have some system, new or old, priced at $299 for the holidays.
As always, feel free to comment.