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On the scene with Rick Lockridge in Atlanta, Georgia

Rick Lockridge
Rick Lockridge  

CNN's technology correspondent Rick Lockridge has played with the new Sony PlayStation 2 and talks about the craze surrounding this new machine.

Q: What sort of madness are we seeing today?

LOCKRIDGE: In the Atlanta area, there was some scuffling in the parking lot of a retailer overnight among some parents and other people who wanted to buy one of the first PlayStation 2 units. They were jostling over their positions in line and the police in Woodstock, Georgia, had to come in and restore order because these people couldn't control themselves.

There have been reports of long lines across the nation, and I think the potential shortage of the machines is a pretty serious problem. A lot of people who want PlayStation 2s may not be able to get them in time for Christmas if demand is as high as some people think it might be.

Q: What's the coolness factor of this machine on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the coolest?

LOCKRIDGE: I would say it's about an eight, because Sony is pretty famous for its industrial design and this machine is very sleek looking. It would be right at home, as Sony intends it to be, in a home entertainment center right next to a VCR and a satellite receiver. It plays DVDs, which is a big plus. You can play your DVD movies on it. So, people who have not bought a DVD player, that gives them an extra incentive to buy PlayStation 2. The fact that it's a 128-bit machine, only the second one out there on the market, (is a bonus). Also you can play all your old PlayStation games. People have invested fortunes in those games; more than 600 million PlayStation games have been sold. Those games can be played on this machine, so you don't have to stack those old games in a closet somewhere.

Q: Would it a 16-year-old rather have a PlayStation2 or a new car?

LOCKRIDGE: I asked some adolescents that very question. We were in Fort Worth this past weekend where Sony had its traveling, semi-truck arcade-on-wheels at a street fair. Some of the kids had already said they saved up for it. Some said they were definitely going to buy it. They all said this is one of the very first things they would spend an extra $300 on. Clearly, its appeal to teen-age boys couldn't possibly be higher.

Q: What's the main age demographic Sony is shooting for with this machine? Is this just a boy thing?

LOCKRIDGE: They really want to cast a wide net here.They want to target games to adults as well as kids. And some of the games show that. For example, they have an NFL game, an NHL game and a Major League Baseball game that are really intended, I think, to appeal more to the adult male.

But what they are really after is for families to buy this unit and use it as their centerpiece for their future digital entertainment needs. Not only will it be able to do all the things it can now -- play games, play DVDs, play CDs -- it has the space for a hard drive and an ethernet port. Sony expects that at some point, you'll be using this machine to download digital content from the Internet for things other than games, such as e-books, MP3s. You might use this as your MP3 warehouse as soon as the hard drive becomes available and the Internet connection becomes available.

Q: How quickly are they expecting the units to sell out and what sort of things is the company doing to help alleviate the Christmas rush?

LOCKRIDGE: They've launched a more than $1 billion marketing campaign. They recently intended to ship a million units to the United States for the launch on October 26. They since scaled that back to 500,000 because they had difficulty making enough of the "Emotion Engine" chips. So, 500,000 at launch in the U.S. and they promise to ship 100,000 units to the U.S. between now and Christmas. That would make 1.3 million units available in the U.S. by Christmas time.

Given the demand for the machine in Japan, which is obviously a much smaller nation, where they've sold more than 3 million units already since the launch there in March, 1.3 million units is not going to be nearly enough in the United States. Sony hopes to ship 3 million units by next March, but even that probably won't be enough.

Only the very determined and diligent U.S. buyers will get their hands on them anytime soon.

I saw that somebody had sold their reservation for a PlayStation 2 for $787. Retail is $299. ... It had 21 bidders, and it wasn't for an actual machine. It was just for a guy's place in line.



RELATED STORIES:
The PlayStation Paradox
October 27, 2000
PlayStation 2 makes its North American debut
October 26, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Sony - PlayStation 2 News

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