After nearly four years of production, numerous design revisions, and a determined battle to establish Blu-ray as the de facto next-generation method of HD content distribution, the PS3’s financials have almost turned a corner. By August, Sony is expected to finally begin earning a profit on the actual Playstation 3 console, rather than losing money on every single console sold.
Sony’s drive towards profitability has been anything but smooth. When the Playstation 3 launched, iSuppli estimated the company was losing $241.35 per premium system (60GB HDD, $599) and $306.85 for the low end 20GB model (a steal at just $499). Microsoft’s first-generation XBox 360, in contrast, cost the company just $75, while the Wii was profitable at $6 per unit sold from the beginning.
Microsoft appears to have hit the break-even point back in 2008, 2.5-3 years post-launch, but it’s taken Sony longer to close the gap. The company’s second-generation PS3 released in 2008 cost an estimated $50 per console, while 2009 revisions cut that figure to $37. This time around, the cost reduction will be thanks to a new 40nm version of the Playstation’s NVIDIA-built RSX “Reality Synthesizer” GPU. The new chip will pair up with a 45nm Cell processor and draw significantly less power than even the current PS3 Slim. This could theoretically allow Sony to remodel the enclosure; there’s a persistent rumor that we’ll see a new custom SKU come August.