Sony to launch portable PlayStation

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TOKYO--Sony Corp. plans to launch a new portable PlayStation video game unit in Japan next month that will offer network capabilities over cellular telephone connections.

The new game unit called "PS one" is a scaled down version of the highly popular first-generation PlayStation and will hit store shelves in Japan on July 7. It comes with a price tag of $140. The game will weigh a little more than a pound and comes with a 32-bit central processing unit, according to Sony's game-making company, Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI).

Sony Computer says Hakuhodo Inc. will be its primary ad agency in Japan, and it will launch a major campaign to promote the new game unit.

"By inheriting the same functions and continuing the success of the current console, PS One will lead the PlayStation format into the new mobile network era," the company said.

With this mobile phone network connection, the user can download information, entertainment content and software programs in addition to exchanging data with other users in a variety of ways.

SCEI plans to deploy servers to handle the large scale of this new network-based PlayStation audience (with more than 17 million in Japan alone). It said it will aggressively promote the business opportunities and technology to third-party software developers to encourage them to create applications -- helping to bring about a new entertainment lifestyle for the network era.

The game unit will hit the market in the U.S. and Europe this fall, and the mobile PS One will eventually succeed in the market-place the first-generation PlayStation, which has already racked up global sales of 73 million units.

Once sales start in major global markets, Sony Computer expects yearly sales of PS One and PlayStation of eight million units a year, with the mobile unit making up about 75% of the total.

Sony Computer is planning to release an LCD monitor for PS One next spring that will allow users to play the game anywhere they please without having to hook it up to a TV.

Sony Computer put its new dream machine, the 128-bit PlayStation 2, on the market in Japan last March and has racked up sales of more than two million units.

Copyright June 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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