Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 Price Drops This Fall?

When it comes to console price drops, especially when it involves the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, most of the rumors have gotten it wrong, so echoing another one's a bit like strapping yourself to the mast of the Titanic. We know Sony and Microsoft will, but the when's about as accessible as a crystal ball locked in a safe sheathed in cement at the bottom of a well.

The story this time? The price cut--make that price cuts--are coming this fall for both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. What's more, Sony's planning to replace the 80GB PS3 with a 160GB model, the PS3 slim is real but coming a bit later, Microsoft's planning to replace the Pro with its Elite model, and both systems are getting new bundles in time for the holidays.

To be fair, some of that predates the Ars Technica story (they're attributing it to a mole they imply has a sterling track record). The only new bits are the Xbox 360 price drop, Microsoft mainlining its Elite model, and the bundle additive, though it would've been more impressive if the mole knew the bundle specifics--the tradition of new holiday bundles leading out of the summer into the holidays is as inevitable as death and taxes.

I've got to invoke my usual line here about Microsoft needing to drop where it matters, i.e. component prices. As I've shown time and again, the Xbox 360 is actually more expensive than Sony's PlayStation 3 when you configure the former to spec equivalency. If Microsoft just nudges the system's price, they're not doing their existing base any favors.

On the other hand, Microsoft's selling well enough in part because people have bought into their "upgrade in installments" approach. If it costs you $50 more to pull out all the stops in the long run, no biggie--at least you don't have to mortgage the house to get started. Based on that approach, if the Xbox 360's unit cost drops further, it could well undermine Sony's own own price moves, even if they're as substantial as they need to be, i.e. $100 or more.

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