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Report: PlayStation 3 price cut helping console recover

Lower prices and better games seem to be convincing observers that the PS3 has a brighter future.

Over at the San Francisco Chronicle this morning, Ryan Kim has a story contending that Sony's oft-maligned PlayStation 3 may well find much-needed new life in the wake of its recent price cut and the release of some new titles.

Sony better hope so. The PS3, which a year ago this reporter predicted would win the console wars, has been the troubled electronics maker's worst nightmare. Sales lag far behind Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's Xbox 360, and the available games have been less than inspiring.

Jack Tretton, vice president and co-COO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, shows off the first PS3 to come off the truck during the 2006 San Francisco launch of the console. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

But now, Sony has lowered the price of the top-end, 80GB version from $599 to $499, and introduced a midrange option--a $399, 40GB PS3--and Kim writes that its prospects are looking up.

"Howard Stringer, Sony Corp.'s chief executive officer, said last week that the lower prices more than doubled sales of the PlayStation 3 in the United States in the first few weeks," Kim wrote. "He said that in the week ending November 11, Sony sold more than 100,000 consoles after selling an average of 30,000 to 40,000 previously."

Clearly, this is put up or shut up time for Sony. One of the reasons I predicted originally that the PS3 would end up as the dominant console was that I actually buy Sony's argument that it looks at its consoles as products with 10-year life cycles and that, therefore, victory goes to the company whose machine is ahead after several years, not just one or two.

Based on the longevity of both the PlayStation and PlayStation 2--which is still selling well, even today--it seemed that even with concerns about pricing and vastly expensive components, Sony would find a way to leverage its fanatical fan base to come out on top. Over time.

And that's why even perception that the PS3 is doing better will help its cause. That, and lower prices and a slew of new games that might lure in those who were hesitant before.

The only problem is you can be sure Nintendo and Microsoft aren't going to just sit still and let Sony eat their lunches without a fight.

So if the PS3 gets tromped during this year's holiday season, it's going to be awful hard for Sony to make the case to consumers, Wall Street, and the video game press that the device has much of a shot catching up.