When the PS3 price drop does hit, Sony may be losing even more money on the hardware (but less than it used to, due to improved techniques and cheaper parts) while gaining in software sales, assuming it manages to get a handle on the firmware breach and piracy issues that threaten to do a great deal of damage.
So, the NGP will be Sony's big hope for revenue at the end of the year. Since consoles (except Nintendo's) are generally sold at a loss, Sony will be looking to good attach rates, to help generate profit.
If Sony does decide that NGP is to be sold at a fractional profit, and the interest is really there, then hefty sales should see it make a good return, but if it plans a five-to-six year lifespan for the device, instant returns aren't high on the agenda.
What Sony can't afford is for NGP to dwindle (both in hardware and software sales terms) in any market, as has happened with the PSP. So, expect heavy advertising and pushes into all territories, even the traditional lesser markets like Australia and Brazil that are now highly important, and if China lets the console in - wow!
I say Australia is increasingly important, purely due to orbital mechanics. If you follow any tech market, you wake up to news that happened in Australia overnight. If a launch went well, if an exciting product hit, if there's a bug - the Aussies get it first and via Twitter and rolling web news, we find out about it before our toast is warm.
If NGP starts getting a bad reputation there, it will infect opinion in Europe, then America, something that Sony can't allow to happen to such an important launch. All in all, Sony has to have a global focus and look for a string of rolling success:
- Good numbers for the hardware launch
- No running out of stock
- Good launch games
- Launch surprises
- Good Month 2,3,4 launches
that builds momentum everywhere. If it can do all that, then Sony is welcome to do magic tricks at my kid's birthday!