An executive at Sony New Zealand appears to have the let the cat out of the bag by revealing the company plans to build a TV tuner into its Playstation 3 games console next year, a move that would turn every PS3 console sold in New Zealand into a Freeview set-top box.
The statement by Sony Computer Entertainment New Zealand marketing manager Warwick Light during an interview with The Press appears to have pre-empted what may be a major global announcement by Sony at the Leipzig Games Convention in Germany next week.
The "leak" was reported by hundreds of bloggers and technology writers worldwide.
"We're hoping next year, about the same time that Freeview launches its terrestrial broadcasting service, to release a digital tuner for the PS3, turning it into a programmable TV recorder," Mr Light told The Press.
Sony Computer Entertainment New Zealand was not returning calls last week.
Building a DVB-T television tuner into the top-of-the-line games console could turn the PS3 into an all-encompassing gaming and entertainment unit that could replace free-to-air set-top boxes, VCRs, PVRs and DVD recorders.
Reporting on Mr Light's comments, Duncan Madden, a commentator at British online publication AVReview.co.uk, asked "how long till the PS3 is the only peripheral device under our TVs?"
Sony's move would help Freeview boost its viewing numbers. New PS3 owners who lived in New Zealand's 10 largest cities could use the console to pick up TV transmissions and record programmes once Freeview launches its digital terrestrial service in March, without having to invest in a dedicated set-top box.
"It is definitely interesting, but Sony hasn't formally announced anything," says Freeview general manager Steve Browning. "We are very happy for every consumer electronics product to have a DVB-T tuner in it, that would be great. Why shouldn't people who have a gaming console have a digital receiver in it? It makes sense."
Including a tuner could put the PS3 into direct worldwide competition with personal video recorders such as the Tivo. Sony has so far sold about 6 million PS3s worldwide and expects to have sold more than 14.5 million by April next year.
According to Australian independent research group GfK, 9019 consoles have been sold in New Zealand since it went on sale in March. It was retailing last week at $1199.
- The Dominion Post