Speculation, or perhaps expectations, of a redesigned PlayStation Portable started as soon as Nintendo showed the world how much better a handheld can get after a revision. Earlier this week, gaming blog Kotaku cited anonymous industry sources claiming that another PSP is in the works with improved buttons, 8GB of internal flash memory, faster load times, a built-in camera and maybe even a touch screen.
Sony has never denied the possibility of revised hardware for the PSP, but always took the stance that there were no plans for a second release of its portable. That is, until Ray Maguire, a Sony executive in the UK, was caught on record on Tuesday saying that the current PSP is just the "first iteration" of the handheld, according to GamesIndustry.biz.
Maguire said that a future version of the system would be smaller and lighter than the current PSP. In response to further questions on his comment, Maguire added that the large screen size of the PSP is "fixed" and will not be affected, or reduced, in the next version. He also did not offer comment on any other of the rumored features, nor any suggestions as to when the new PSP would see release.
Following Maguire's comments, a Sony spokesman clarified the company line by saying that there were no "immediate changes" planned for the PSP other than the usual firmware updates. However, the spokesman did not close the door on a new PSP, saying, "In the longest term, of course we are always looking at ways to continue our platform development, and this normal business practice is what Ray was referring to."
Sony has released a "smaller, lighter" version of each of its PlayStation consoles, leading many to believe that the PSP will also go through a similar treatment. The original PlayStation was redesigned and rebranded as the PSone after a significant shrinking of form factor. The PlayStation 2 also underwent a downsizing transformation, along with a change in the optical drive mechanism to increase reliability.
A redesigned PSP may help bolster sales of Sony's handheld, which has been playing a distant second to Nintendo's wildly popular DS Lite. Last year, Nintendo resdesigned its innovative, but clunky, handheld with new colors and a smaller size and was met with critical acclaim and impressive sales numbers. Despite the hype surrounding the arrival of the PS3 and Wii, it was the Nintendo DS that outsold every other video game system, including the PSP, during last holiday season.