Future of 20GB PS3 Seems Uncertain

Although the company denies that it is discontinued, the 20GB version of the PlayStation 3 is becoming increasingly difficult to find. At least two online retailers no longer carry the low-end model, with a brick-and-mortar retailer apparently discontinuing sales as well.

One of those stores is Sony's own SonyStyle.com. In a statement, Sony said the $499 20GB PS3 is still shipping to retailers, claiming its move was due to market demand. A spokesperson for Best Buy, whose online store has also removed the lower-end PS3, was not immediately available.

Best Buy's online sales decision apparently extends into its physical stores as well. A check by BetaNews in Washington DC metropolitan locations found an ample supply of 60GB PS3s, however no 20GB models were available.

A sales associate in Reston, Virginia confirmed that there were none in stock, and said he believed the location would no longer be carrying it due to "lack of demand." It is not immediately clear if this policy may be trickling down through the rest of Best Buy's 800 plus locations.

Sony has repeatedly said that the 60GB PS3 model is the more popular of the two, and many stores have opted to only sell that model. However, with the console struggling to keep pace with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii, the $599 price point of the higher-end PS3 has kept the console on shelves.

The last available data shows that Sony's sales have dropped off sharply while the Xbox 360 and Wii have shown more seasonal declines.

If the 20GB model has been discontinued, it would not be unprecedented; in Europe, only the 60GB model is for sale, as Sony argued customers preferred the higher-end version.

Additionally, a 80GB PS3 model recently revealed through FCC filings may become the company's new flagship model, although Sony will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the new model.

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