The PlayStation 3 is an expensive console – not only for
consumers, but also for Sony as well. Despite the console’s big sticker price,
Sony is still currently paying more to manufacture the console than consumers
are paying to take them home.
At the time of the PlayStation 3 launch in mid-November, iSuppli
estimated that Sony was losing $240 on each 60GB PS3 it sold and $300 on
each 20GB PS3 that it sold. Sony was able to stem those losses somewhat by dropping
the 20GB PS3 from its product mix in North America.
Sony executive VP Nobuyuki Oneda said during an investor
conference call that the company may be able to break even on PlayStation 3
production costs sometime this fiscal year, which ends March 2008.
“For the negative margin to go away, the big trigger would
be the cost-down in the Cell and RSX semiconductors. They are the key, and also
optical pick-up is another factor, significantly,” Oneda said, according to Next-Gen.
“The removal of the negative margin will be when all of these factors have come
out. Maybe, marginally, we could achieve this during this year.”
Oneda added that Sony is working to transition the Cell
Broadband Engine chip from its current 90nm process down to the 65nm process –
a move that is expected to improve chip efficiency and lower costs. The RSX
graphics processor in the PlayStation 3 is also expected to make a similar
die-shrink sometime shortly after.